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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Non-absorbable disaccharides for hepatic encephalopathy: systematic review of randomised trials.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the effects of non-absorbable disaccharides (lactulose and lactitol) in patients with hepatic encephalopathy. DATA SOURCES: Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group controlled trials register, Cochrane Library, Medline, and Embase until March 2003; reference lists of relevant articles; authors and pharmaceutical companies. REVIEW METHODS: Randomised trials that compared non-absorbable disaccharides with placebo, no intervention, or antibiotics for hepatic encephalopathy were included. The primary outcome measures were no improvement of hepatic encephalopathy and all cause mortality. RESULTS: 22 trials were included. Compared with placebo or no intervention, non-absorbable disaccharides seemed to reduce the risk of no improvement in patients with hepatic encephalopathy (relative risk 0.62, 95% confidence interval 0.46 to 0.84, six trials). However, high quality trials found no significant effect (0.92, 0.42 to 2.04, two trials). Compared with placebo or no intervention, non-absorbable disaccharides had no significant effect on mortality (0.41, 0.02 to 8.68, four trials). Non-absorbable disaccharides were inferior to antibiotics in reducing the risk of no improvement (1.24, 1.02 to 1.50, 10 trials) and lowering blood ammonia concentration (weighted mean difference 2.35 micromol/l, 0.06 micromol/l to 13.45 micromol/l, 10 trials). There was no significant difference in mortality (0.90, 0.48 to 1.67, five trials). CONCLUSIONS: There is insufficient evidence to support or refute the use of non-absorbable disaccharides for hepatic encephalopathy. Antibiotics were superior to non-absorbable disaccharides in improving hepatic encephalopathy, but it is unclear whether this difference is clinically important. Non-absorbable disaccharides should not serve as comparator in randomised trials on hepatic encephalopathy.[1]


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