What is encephalopathy?

Updated: Oct 09, 2019
  • Author: Eli S Neiman, DO, FACN; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Encephalopathy represents a brain state in which normal functioning of the brain is disturbed temporarily or permanently. Encephalopathy encompasses a number of conditions that lead to cognitive dysfunction. Some of these conditions are multifactorial, and some have an established cause, such as hepatic or uremic encephalopathy. Because the EEG patterns in most dementias and encephalopathies demonstrate few specific features, they are discussed together.

Some notable exceptions include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE); however, no specific patterns exist for most dementias and encephalopathies. Other conditions, such as hepatic and renal encephalopathies, carry distinguishing features; nevertheless, similar patterns may be seen in a fairly wide range of illnesses under certain conditions.

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