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Encephalopathy

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Encephalopathy is a term used to describe brain disease or brain damage. It usually develops because of a health condition such as cirrhosis, or a brain injury. Symptoms may be mild or severe, and may be short-term or permanent.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Medicines:

  • Blood pressure medicine may be given to raise or lower your blood pressure.
  • Antibiotics help treat an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Medicine may be given to increase or decrease the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood. You may also need medicine to correct your potassium, sodium, or calcium level.
  • A vitamin B supplement may be given if the level in your blood is too low.

Tests:

  • Blood or urine tests may be used to check for an infection or a chemical, such as lead. Your glucose, sodium, and vitamin B1 levels may also be tested. Your blood may be tested for alcohol, drugs, or medicines. Blood tests may also be used to check your liver or kidney function.
  • CT or MRI pictures may show swelling, an injury, or an infection in your brain.
  • An EEG may be used to check how your brain is working. Small pads or metal discs are put on your head. Each has a wire that is hooked to a machine. This machine prints a paper tracing of brain wave activity from different parts of your brain.
  • A neurologic exam can show how well your brain works after an injury or illness. Your healthcare provider will check how your pupils react to light. He may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.
  • A lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, may be used to check for an infection. Your healthcare provider will take a sample of spinal fluid to be tested.

Treatment:

  • A ventilator is a machine that gives you oxygen and breathes for you when you cannot breathe well on your own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. You may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into your windpipe.
  • Liquids may be given through your IV to increase your blood pressure. Liquids may also be given to correct your potassium, sodium, or calcium level.
  • Artificial liver support may be needed. A machine is used to clean your blood when your liver cannot. Chemicals and waste products are removed from your blood by a filtering machine. Your blood is passed through a filter and then returned to your body.
  • Surgery to correct blood flow to the liver, or a liver transplant may be needed.

RISKS:

Even with treatment, you may have permanent damage to your brain. This may cause problems in your mood, behavior, and the way you think. Severe brain damage could lead to a coma and may be life-threatening.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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