OBJECTIVES:The grading of hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is based on a combination of indicators that reflect the state of consciousness, intellectual function, changes in behavior, and neuromuscular alterations seen in patients with liver failure.METHODS:We modified the traditional West Haven criteria (WHC) to provide an objective assessment of the cognitive parameters to complement the subjective clinical ratings for the performance of extracorporeal albumin dialysis (ECAD) using a molecular adsorption recirculating system in patients with cirrhosis and severe (grade IIIIV) encephalopathy. The HE Scoring Algorithm (HESA) combined clinical indicators with those derived from simple neuropsychological tests, the latter more often used in milder grades of HE (III). The performance of each indicator was compared across grades and sites.RESULTS:Results of HESA were also compared with the Glasgow Coma Scale. A total of 597 evaluations were performed in patients randomized to ECAD plus standard medical therapy or the latter only. Most parameters exhibited significant separation between grades; the most effective indicators were lack of verbal, eye, and motor response (grade IV), somnolence and disorientation to place (grade III), and lethargy and disorientation to time (grade II). Two clinical and four neuropsychological indicators were useful to classify patients as grade I. The Glasgow Coma Scale differed among the four stages of the WHC, but the differences between grades I and II were small and not clinically useful.CONCLUSION:HESA extends the traditional WHC for grading HE. In the absence of a gold standard, the most useful indicators noted in this trial should be further validated. © 2009 by the American College of Gastroenterology.