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Nephrol Dial Transplant. 1996 Nov;11(11):2265-8.

Liver disease in dialysis patients with antibodies to hepatitis C virus.

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  • 1Division of Nephrology, Security Forces Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Eighty-three patients with chronic end-stage renal failure, including 65 on haemodialysis and 18 on intermittent peritoneal dialysis, were evaluated for hepatitis B virus profile and antibodies to hepatitis C virus (HCV). All those positive for HBsAg were excluded from the study. Nineteen patients were found to be positive for antibodies to HCV by the ELISA II test. Eight cases were already positive for HCV antibody when they started dialysis in our unit, the other 11 became positive during dialysis in our unit. Only one of the patients on peritoneal dialysis was positive for HCV. A liver biopsy was obtained from 17 patients, who consented to the procedure. All the cases were evaluated for the number of blood transfusions received, HIV infection and the approximate time of contracting the HCV infection. Liver enzymes were determined every month. Only three patients had abnormally raised serum aminotransferase at the time of biopsy. The various histopathological lesions detected were chronic active hepatitis (n = 3, including one with changes consistent with cirrhosis), chronic persistent hepatitis (n = 4), non-specific hepatitis (n = 3) and haemosiderosis (n = 3); four biopsy samples were normal. There was no correlation between the biochemical and histopathological changes. Moreover, patients with normal serum aminotransferase levels had abnormal histopathological changes. All were negative for HIV and none of the patients had received a renal graft. Twelve patients had received blood transfusions varying from 2 to 12 units, four had not received any blood, and in one the history of blood transfusion could not be confirmed. The four patients with anti-HCV antibodies who had not received blood transfusion had relatively mild disease--non-specific hepatitis (n = 2) or normal biopsy (n = 2). One patient with cirrhosis died 30 months after liver biopsy from hepatic insufficiency and three received renal transplants. Others are continuing on dialysis and their biochemical tests are within normal limits 12-45 (30 +/- 14) months after biopsy. In conclusion, biochemical tests are poor indicators of liver disease, and liver biopsy is a definitive way of evaluating the patients of dialysis with positive HCV antibodies for prognosis.

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