Helicobacter pylori Infection, Plasma Ammonia Levels, and Psychometric Testing in Cirrhotic Patients

Zullo, Angelo; Rinaldi, Vittorio; Hassan, Cesare; Winn, Simon; Attili, Adolfo F.
August 1999
American Journal of Gastroenterology;Aug1999, Vol. 94 Issue 8, p2214
Academic Journal
OBJECTIVE: The role of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection as a cause of hepatic encephalopathy is still debated. This study focused on the relationship between H. pylori, plasma ammonia levels, and intellectual function in cirrhotic patients. METHODS: Forty-seven cirrhotics with latent or mild hepatic encephalopathy were enrolled in the study, upon H. pylori assessment at endoscopy. Plasma ammonia level determinations and psychometric testing were performed at entry in all patients. Patients with H. pylori infection received a 2-wk standard dual therapy and bacterial eradication was assessed at endoscopy 6-8 wk later. On this occasion, plasma ammonia levels and psychometric assessments were repeated. Patients without H. pylori infection at entry were also studied after 6-8 wk for ammonia level assessment and psychometric testing, as a control group. Patients receiving lactulose therapy and those without therapy were grouped separately for statistical analysis. RESULTS: Among 21 patients without lactulose therapy (group A), basal plasma ammonia levels and psychometric testing scores did not significantly differ between 13 infected and eight uninfected patients. Similarly, among 26 patients undergoing lactulose therapy (group B), basal plasma ammonia concentration and psychometric testing scores did not significantly differ between 13 infected and 13 uninfected patients. Moreover, in group B, both the prevalence of previous overt hepatic encephalopathy episodes and the mean daily dose of lactulose therapy were similar between infected and uninfected patients. In addition, no significant reduction in the plasma ammonia concentrations and in psychometric testing scores emerged in both groups A and B after bacterial eradication. CONCLUSIONS: This study failed to find a relationship between H. pylori, plasma ammonia levels, and psychometric testing scores in cirrhotic patients with latent or mild hepatic encephalopathy.


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