Role of antibiotics in the management of hepatic encephalophathy

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13 Scopus citations


This article explores the rationale for use of antibiotics in the treatment of hepatic encephalopathy, discusses the role of antibiotics relative to other therapeutic approaches, and considers the reasons that limit the use of the antibiotics most commonly prescribed for the management of hepatic encephalopathy in the United States. Although the scientific rationale for the use of antibiotics in hepatic encephalopathy is well founded, the clinical evidence for their benefits is rather limited. There is no doubt that many antibiotics cause a decrease in intraluminal production of ammonia. However, the commonly prescribed antibiotics are also associated with a variety of adverse effects. None of the antibiotics typically used for hepatic encephalopathy is adequately tolerated in the target patient population. The clinical evidence to date does not support the first-line use of currently available antibiotics in the treatment of hepatic encephalopathy. To improve upon current antibiotic offerings for hepatic encephalopathy, an antibiotic should provide broad-spectrum coverage against both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, effectively control neuropsychiatric signs and symptoms, and be extremely well tolerated in the target population. An antibiotic fulfilling these criteria would constitute an advance in therapy for hepatic encephalopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S3-S9
JournalReviews in Gastroenterological Disorders
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Jun 30 2005


  • Ammonia
  • Antibiotics
  • Gut bacteria
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Lactulose
  • Neuropsychiatric signs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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