Official Title

Diagnosis of Covert/Minimal Hepatic Encephalopathy by Means of Continuous Reaction Time Measurement
  • Phase

  • Study Type

  • Status

    Completed No Results Posted
  • Study Participants

The investigators wish to investigate how the Continuous Reaction Time (CRT) method can be used in the diagnosis and monitoring of covert hepatic encephalopathy (cHE)in patients with cirrhosis of the liver. The hypothesis is that the CRT method (duration 10-2 minutes) can serve as a tool in the diagnosis and monitoring of cHE and is an alternative to using the Portosystemic Encephalopathy Test (PSE)(duration 20-25 minutes).
Objective: The aim of this project is to investigate whether continuous reaction time measurements (CRT) are suitable as a screening and monitoring tool for covert hepatic encephalopathy (c/mHE).


Sub-protocol 1: As a part of this PhD protocol 100 healthy individuals and 50 with chronic disease (not liver cirrhosis) will be tested using the CRT and PSE tests. This is to determine the normal range for the PSE test in the Danish population.

Sub-protocol 2: A total of 120 (aprox. 145 to adjust for drop outs) patients with liver cirrhosis from two Danish hospitals will be examined with both CRT and with the test that is the closest we get to a gold standard, namely portosystemic encephalopathy test (PSE). We wish to examine if the CRT test agrees with the PSE test, which may be to time consuming to perform in everyday clinical practice, and with quality of life scores (SF-36 and Sickness Impact Profile). The relationship between the CRT and PSE test and various blood tests and the Charlston co-morbidity score will also be examined.

Sub-protocol 3: Forty-four of the 120 included patients will, regardless of CRT test result, be randomized to treatment with lactulose, rifaximin and branched chain amino acids (BCAA) or placebo lactulose, rifaximin and BCAA. This is to evaluate whether the CRT method is able to detect a response to treatment, and see if changes in psychometric tests (PSE and CRT) are in accordance with quality of life scores and predicts subsequent development of overt hepatic encephalopathy.

Perspective: CRT method should, if it proves good enough, continue to be the Danish test of choice and hopefully be more widely used in our country. The validation of tests for the diagnosis of covert hepatic encephalopathy will give cirrhotic patients with covert hepatic encephalopathy and reduced quality of life the best opportunity to be diagnosed and offered appropriate treatment. If the CRT method is not able to identify a population that benefits from anti-encephalopathy treatment other screening and monitoring tests should be used.
Study Started
Jan 31
Primary Completion
Oct 31
Study Completion
Nov 30
Last Update
Feb 23

Drug Lactulose and rifaximin

3 months treatment. lactulose 25 Ml x3 per day. Rifaximin (550 mg) x 2 per day.

Dietary Supplement Branched Chain amino acids

30 grams of branched chain amino acids (Bramino) per day is given to the patients in the antiHE treatment arm along with lactulose and rifaximin.

Other Placebo

Patients in the placebo-arm receives both placebo-Bramino, placebo-lactulose and placebo-rifaximin.

Anti cHE treatment arm Active Comparator

Of 150 included patients aprox. 44 regardless of CRT and PSE test outcome will be offered to enter randomisation and 3 months follow up. Half of 44 patients will receive both lactulose, rifaximin and branched chain aminoacids (Bramino) the other half placebo.

Placebo arm Placebo Comparator

The goal of this intervention is to investigate whether the CRT method can detect an expected treatment response after initiation of the 3 named drugs know to ameliorate HE symptoms including psychometric test results.


Inclusion Criteria:

For healthy volunteers:

Age> 18 years
Written informed consent
Speak and understand Danish

For patients:

Age > 18 years
Liver cirrhosis confirmed by biopsy or appropriate clinic and biochemistry, and imaging.
Written informed consent
Speak and understand Danish

Exclusion Criteria (patients and control persons):

Clinical manifest hepatic encephalopathy
Consumption of psychoactive substances within 6 days of test
Organic brain disease (i.e. prior stroke, dementia)
Renal failure (creatinine> 150 mg / dL)
Hyponatremia (Na <125 mmol / L)
Sepsis or bleeding within one week prior to testing.
Serious sleep disorders
Current treatment with lactulose, rifaximin or BCAA
No Results Posted