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Semin Nephrol. 2002 Jul;22(4):331-9.

HCV infection and hemodialysis.

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Unité d'Hépatologie et Inserm V-370, Hôpital Necker, Paris, France.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections are frequent in hemodialyzed patients and are mainly related to transfusions and nosocomial contamination. HCV-related infection may result in cirrhosis in 10% of dialysis patients and is worsened by transplantation because of the immunosuppressive therapy for prevention of graft rejection. Because there is a risk for significant liver disease and because cirrhosis contraindicates a renal transplantation, a liver biopsy should be performed early in HCV-RNA positive hemodialysis patients to evaluate histologic impact of the liver disease. A combined liver-kidney transplantation should be discussed in dialysis patients with cirrhosis. Standard alpha-interferon is the only treatment for HCV in dialysis patients because ribavirin is contraindicated by a high risk for hemolytic anemia. It leads to an overall 30% rate of sustained viral eradication. It is indicated in dialysis patients with acute hepatitis C, significant liver disease (fibrosis score > or =2), or symptomatic cryoglobulinemia, and to candidates for renal transplantation, whatever the severity of the liver disease. Indeed, alpha-interferon is contraindicated in kidney recipients given the risk for rejection. Preventive treatment for HCV is only respect for universal hygiene rules in the dialysis setting because there is no available vaccine.

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