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Hepatic Encephalopathy in Cats

By: Dr. Arnold Plotnick

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Diagnosis

Hepatic encephalopathy is a syndrome and not a disease itself. It is diagnosed by a combination of the patient's history, physical examination findings and laboratory data. These findings can support the presence of significant liver disease in an animal in which no other cause for the neurologic and behavioral signs can be identified. Tests that help make the diagnosis of severe liver disease and resultant HE include:

  • Complete blood count
  • Serum chemistry panel
  • Urinalysis
  • Blood clotting profile
  • Blood ammonia level or ammonia tolerance test
  • Bile acid test
  • Abdominal radiographs or special dye studies
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Liver biopsy
  • Transcolonic scintigraphy

    Treatment

  • Remove the predisposing cause, if possible
  • Antibiotics
  • Lactulose
  • Diet

    Home Care and Prevention

    When at home, administer proper diet and medications as prescribed. Watch your cat for any of the signs listed above.

    One can minimize exacerbations of clinical signs of HE by avoiding some predisposing factors:

  • Don't feed high protein meals
  • Avoid drugs that might induce gastrointestinal bleeding, such as aspirin
  • Avoid giving tranquilizers or sedatives for travel
  • Avoid organophosphate insecticides

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