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Dig Liver Dis. 2004 Jan;36(1):56-60.

Characteristics of liver cirrhosis in Italy: results from a multicenter national study.

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Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Laboratory of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Istituto Superiore di SanitĂ , Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome, Italy.



In 1992, the characteristics of liver cirrhosis in Italy were assessed in a cross-sectional study among 1829 cirrhosis patients attending 21 tertiary centres.


To evaluate the characteristics of cirrhosis patients 9 years later.


A total of 2185 consecutive cirrhosis patients were enrolled over a 6-month period in 79 hospitals located throughout Italy, randomly selected by means of systematic cluster sampling.


The main agent associated with cirrhosis was hepatitis C virus, which was found in 69.9% of the patients and was the only etiologic factor in 51.1% of the patients. Hepatitis B surface antigen was present in the serum of 13.0% of the cases (in 7.3%, it was the only etiologic factor). A history of alcohol abuse was found in 31.9% of the cases (12.4% without viral infection). Patients with hepatitis C virus-related cirrhosis were older (mean age of 64.4 years) and more likely to be female (male:female ratio of 0.7), compared to patients with other pathogenic factors. Virus-related cirrhosis was more likely to be observed in southern Italy, whereas alcohol-related cirrhosis was prevalent in the North.


As found in the 1992 study, the results of the present study show that in Italy, liver cirrhosis is mainly associated with hepatitis C virus infection, reflecting the high prevalence of this infection in the general population.

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