Items in AFP with MESH term: Hepatitis C, Chronic
ABSTRACT: Chronic hepatitis C virus infection is a common and serious disease. Although an estimated 2.7 million persons in the United States have this disease, most have not yet been diagnosed. Recent advances in treatment provide successful cure in 50 to 80 percent of cases. Current drug therapy consists of a combination of pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Although all patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection are potential candidates for treatment, pharmacologic therapy has a number of contraindications. Evaluation of suitability for treatment includes a thorough search for comorbid medical and psychiatric conditions that can be contraindications. Initial testing involves anti-hepatitis C virus antibodies, but definitive diagnosis of active disease requires detection of viral RNA. Most patients require a liver biopsy to determine the amount of hepatic fibrosis and ongoing hepatocellular inflammation. Viral genotype also should be determined: type 1 requires 12 months of treatment and does not respond as well as types 2 and 3, which require only six months of treatment. Common side effects of drug therapy include anemia, anorexia, depression, fatigue, fever, headache, myalgia, nausea, and erythema at the injection site.
ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C virus is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the United States. The advent of new treatment regimens using pegylated interferons in combination with ribavirin has led to improved sustained viral response rates for some genotypes in large multicenter trials. Advances in the management of side effects and toxicities have expanded the pool of treatable patients. A recent National Institutes of Health consensus conference recommended that all patients who have bridging hepatic fibrosis and moderate inflammation together with detectable viremia should receive treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Unfortunately, these medications are very expensive and have significant side effects. Hematologic toxicities include anemia and leukopenia. These can be managed with close monitoring, use of growth factors, or dose reductions. Depression also can be caused or exacerbated by these medicines and may require treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, comanagement with psychiatry, or cessation of pegylated interferon and ribavirin treatment. Contraception is imperative because ribavirin is highly teratogenic. Influenza-like symptoms of fatigue, nausea, and mild fevers can be helped by quality patient education and support including frequent office visits. Data from randomized controlled trials demonstrating improvements in long-term survival as a result of treatment are not yet available, but it appears that patients who have no detectable virus six months after treatment have a good chance of remaining virus free for at least five years.
ABSTRACT: Cirrhosis and chronic liver failure are leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States, with the majority of preventable cases attributed to excessive alcohol consumption, viral hepatitis, or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Cirrhosis often is an indolent disease; most patients remain asymptomatic until the occurrence of decompensation, characterized by ascites, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, hepatic encephalopathy, or variceal bleeding from portal hypertension. Physical examination of patients with cirrhosis may reveal a variety of findings that necessitate a hepatic- or gastrointestinal-based work-up to determine the etiology. Some patients already may have had laboratory or radiographic tests that incidentally uncovered signs of cirrhosis and its comorbidities. No serologic or radiographic test can accurately diagnose cirrhosis. A significant correlation has been demonstrated between persistently elevated liver function tests and biopsy-proven underlying hepatic disease; thus, a more targeted serologic work-up is indicated in patients whose liver function test results are persistently abnormal. Unnecessary medications and surgical procedures should be avoided in patients with cirrhosis. Referral for liver biopsy should be considered only after a thorough, non-invasive serologic and radiographic evaluation has failed to confirm a diagnosis of cirrhosis; the benefit of biopsy outweighs the risk; and it is postulated that biopsy will have a favorable impact on the treatment of chronic liver disease.
Probability of Cirrhosis in Patients with Hepatitis C - Point-of-Care Guides
Liver Biopsy and Screening for Cancer in Hepatitis C - Editorials
Screening for Hepatitis C in Adults - Putting Prevention into Practice
ABSTRACT: Mild elevations in levels of the liver enzymes alanine transaminase and aspartate transaminase are commonly discovered in asymptomatic patients in primary care. Evidence to guide the diagnostic workup is limited. If the history and physical examination do not suggest a cause, a stepwise evaluation should be initiated based on the prevalence of diseases that cause mild elevations in transaminase levels. The most common cause is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which can affect up to 30 percent of the population. Other common causes include alcoholic liver disease, medication-associated liver injury, viral hepatitis (hepatitis B and C), and hemochromatosis. Less common causes includea1-antitrypsin deficiency, autoimmune hepatitis, and Wilson disease. Extrahepatic conditions (e.g., thyroid disorders, celiac disease, hemolysis, muscle disorders) can also cause elevated liver transaminase levels. Initial testing should include a fasting lipid profile; measurement of glucose, serum iron, and ferritin; total iron-binding capacity; and hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis C virus antibody testing. If test results are normal, a trial of lifestyle modification with observation or further testing for less common causes is appropriate. Additional testing may include ultrasonography; measurement of a1-antitrypsin and ceruloplasmin; serum protein electrophoresis; and antinuclear antibody, smooth muscle antibody, and liver/kidney microsomal antibody type 1 testing. Referral for further evaluation and possible liver biopsy is recommended if transaminase levels remain elevated for six months or more.