Liver encephalopathy, also known as hepatic encephalopathy, is a condition in which confusion, mental dullness, drowsiness and even coma can be caused by failure of the liver to function normally.
When the liver does not function, it cannot remove toxins from the blood. The toxins then build up in the tissues of the brain. When this occurs, confusion, personality changes, memory loss, trouble concentrating, and changes in sleep habits may occur. These signs may begin gradually, or occur suddenly.
It can be caused by either acute liver failure or chronic liver disease but is most often caused by cirrhosis of the liver which, in turn, may be caused by several types of liver diseases, such as hepatitis and alcoholism.