Secondary metabolic encephalopathy. Diagnosis and treatment

Postgraduate Medicine
J R Saper


Secondary metabolic encephalopathy is a diffuse disorder of the brain caused by an extracerebral process. Underlying causes include oxygen deprivation, systemic metabolic disease, and drug intoxication. Symptoms and signs usually suggest a generalized disturbance of brain function: alterations in the level of consciousness; diffuse and, occasionally, focal motor abnormalities; and seizures. Electroencephalography in most instances gives evidence of generalized neuronal disturbance. Early diagnosis is important because encephalopathy secondary to an extracerebral process is potentially reversible. Treatment is directed toward reversal or control of the underlying process, supportive care, and prevention of complications such as infection, electrolyte imbalance, and cerebral edema.


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