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Dig Liver Dis. 2012 Nov;44(11):930-4. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2012.04.011. Epub 2012 May 15.

Hepatitis E infection is an under recognized cause of acute decompensation in patients with chronic liver disease.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, Brighton, UK.



We aimed to assess characteristics of patients with a positive hepatitis E virus serology with emphasis on acute on chronic liver disease.


This was a retrospective audit performed at a large teaching hospital.


Of the 164 patients tested, 15(9.1%) had a positive serology (hepatitis E virus IgG and or IgM) of whom two also had a positive hepatitis E virus RNA. Six (42.8%) had underlying chronic liver disease and presented with deteriorating liver testsĀ±decompensation. In one patient (16%) acute hepatitis E virus infection was the aetiology for the decompensation and in three the positive hepatitis E virus IgG was a reflection of prior subclinical infection. However, in two of the six patients with unexplained decompensation there was delay (150-270 days) in obtaining a hepatitis E virus serology, which may have resulted in a negative hepatitis E virus IgM at time of testing.


9.1% of patients presenting with abnormal liver tests at a large teaching hospital in south east England have a positive hepatitis E virus serology of whom 42.8% have acute on chronic liver disease. In 16% hepatitis E virus infection is the aetiology for the acute decompensation. This may be an under representation as in >30% of patients with unexplained decompensation there is considerable delay in requesting a hepatitis E virus serology.

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