Durability of Rifaximin Response in Hepatic Encephalopathy

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Goals:To evaluate the durability of the response to rifaximin for treatment of hepatic encephalopathy (HE).Background:The nonsystemic antibiotic rifaximin has been approved for maintenance of HE remission, and several studies have indicated the efficacy of rifaximin for acute HE; however, the duration of therapeutic response for >6 months remains unknown.Study:Medical records of patients with cirrhosis who received rifaximin maintenance therapy for HE between January 2004 and May 2009 were reviewed. Model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) scores were obtained every 3 months during therapy.Results:Of 203 patients with HE (Conn score ≥2), 149 received rifaximin monotherapy (400 to 1600 mg/d) and 54 received rifaximin (600 to 1200 mg/d) and lactulose (90 mL/d) dual therapy. Maintenance of HE remission for 1 year occurred in 81% and 67% of patients who received rifaximin monotherapy and rifaximin and lactulose dual therapy, respectively. Patient populations with a baseline mean MELD score ≤20 had few overt HE events, suggesting increased response to rifaximin in these patients.Conclusions:Rifaximin is effective for the management of HE in patients with cirrhosis, particularly in populations with MELD scores ≤20. Additional studies are needed to investigate the potential association between MELD scores and the efficacy of HE treatments.

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