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  1. Zucker, Donna M. PhD, RN, FAAN
  2. Redulla, Rhoda DNP, RN-BC


Minimal hepatic encephalopathy has been shown to increase risk of involvement in road traffic accidents and alter quality of life. This systematic review focused on the role of nonabsorbable disaccharides for the management of minimal hepatic encephalopathy. Randomized clinical trials that evaluated medical management of minimal hepatic encephalopathy were considered for inclusion. Individual studies compared lactulose with usual care and lactulose with probiotics and L-ornithine-L-aspartate. The outcome for examination was the neuropsychiatric test for cognitive function. Search strategies outlined by the Johanna Briggs Institute were used, and articles and references of selected articles were reviewed according to that methodology. Meta-analyses and narrative synthesis of the included studies were undertaken. Treatment of minimal hepatic encephalopathy with lactulose, probiotics, or L-ornithine-L-aspartate was seen to be equally effective in reducing abnormal tests at 1, 3, and 12 months post-treatment. All patients with minimal hepatic encephalopathy should be screened using a neuropsychiatric test and receive treatment as needed. Treatment can delay or eliminate risky automobile accidents and harm to self. Lactulose, probiotics, and L-ornithine-L-aspartate are a low-cost alternative compared with antibiotic treatment.