Cognitive impairment in people diagnosed with end-stage liver disease evaluated for liver transplantation

James H. Sorrell, Bryan J. Zolnikov, Ashish Sharma, Izumi Jinnai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Cognitive impairments are common in patients with end-stage liver disease (ESLD). The aim of the present study was to identify and characterize the neuropsychological deficits between groups of patients with a variety of causes of ESLD and to assess the impact of heavy alcohol use on cognitive functioning. Cognitive functioning in 300 consecutive outpatients presenting for liver transplantation evaluation was assessed using the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS). All patients underwent a psychiatric interview and a physical and laboratory assessment. The prevalence of neuropsychological impairment was highest among patients with liver disease secondary to alcohol. Poor performance on neuropsychological testing was correlated strongly with the severity of liver disease as measured by the model for end-stage liver disease (MELD). After controlling for the linear effects of MELD in subsequent analysis, a group difference emerged in patients with cholestatic liver disease showing less cognitive impairment when compared to all other groups. After controlling for the severity of liver disease, those patients with a history of alcohol abuse or dependence were found to perform more poorly on neuropsychological testing than those patients without such a history. Furthermore, the presence of these cognitive impairments predicted disability independent of the severity of the underlying liver disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-181
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Alcoholism
  • Cholestatic liver disease
  • Cirrhosis
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Neuropsychological impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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