Alterations in cerebral white matter and neuropsychology in patients with cirrhosis and falls

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Background & Aim Falls are frequent in patients with cirrhosis but underlying mechanisms are unknown. The aim was to determine the neuropsychological, neurological and brain alterations using magnetic resonance-diffusion tensor imaging (MR-DTI) in cirrhotic patients with falls. Patients and methods Twelve patients with cirrhosis and falls in the previous year were compared to 9 cirrhotic patients without falls. A comprehensive neuropsychological and neurological evaluation of variables that may predispose to falls included: the Mini-Mental State Examination, Psychometric Hepatic Encephalopathy Score (PHES), Parkinson's Disease-Cognitive Rating Scale, specific tests to explore various cognitive domains, Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale to evaluate parkinsonism, scales for ataxia and muscular strength, and electroneurography. High-field MR (3T) including DTI and structural sequences was performed in all patients. Results The main neuropsychological findings were impairment in PHES (p = 0.03), Parkinson's Disease-Cognitive Rating Scale (p = 0.04) and in executive (p<0.05) and visuospatialvisuoconstructive functions (p<0.05) in patients with falls compared to those without. There were no statistical differences between the two groups in the neurological evaluation or in the visual assessment of MRI. MR-DTI showed alterations in white matter integrity in patients with falls compared to those without falls (p<0.05), with local maxima in the superior longitudinal fasciculus and corticospinal tract. These alterations were independent of PHES as a covariate and correlated with executive dysfunction (p<0.05). Conclusions With the limitation of the small sample size, our results suggest that patients with cirrhosis and falls present alterations in brain white matter tracts related to executive dysfunction. These alterations are independent of PHES impairment.




Gómez-Ansón, B., Román, E., De Bobadilla, R. F., Pires-Encuentra, P., Díaz-Manera, J., Núez, F., … Soriano, G. (2015). Alterations in cerebral white matter and neuropsychology in patients with cirrhosis and falls. PLoS ONE, 10(3).

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