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Gastroenterology. 1994 Apr;106(4):1000-5.

A long-term follow-up study of asymptomatic hepatitis B surface antigen-positive carriers in Montreal.

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1
Department of Medicine, Hôpital Saint-Luc, Montreal, Canada.

Abstract

BACKGROUND/AIMS:

Prospective studies from the Far East and Alaska have shown an increased mortality from cirrhosis and/or hepatocellular carcinoma in asymptomatic hepatitis B virus (HBV) carriers. The magnitude of this risk in apparently healthy North American carriers remains undefined.

METHODS:

The outcomes of 317 asymptomatic hepatitis B surface antigen-positive carriers from the Montreal area were examined after 16 years of follow-up. A majority of carriers were of French Canadian origin, were positive for antibody to hepatitis B e antigen, and had normal serum transaminase levels; institutionalization in orphanages as infants or children was the most important epidemiological risk factor, suggesting horizontal transmission of HBV during childhood.

RESULTS:

At follow-up, mean age was 46 +/- 8 years; 3 carriers had died of HBV-related cirrhosis, 1 of alcoholic cirrhosis, and 9 of causes unrelated to liver disease. No carrier died of hepatocellular carcinoma; had the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma been similar to that reported from the Far East and Alaska, 17 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma-related deaths would have been expected. During follow-up, the annual negativation rate for hepatitis B surface antigen was 0.7%.

CONCLUSIONS:

In asymptomatic HBV carriers from Montreal, a majority are "healthy" carriers and remain asymptomatic after 16 years of follow-up and the risk of death from HBV-related cirrhosis and/or hepatocellular carcinoma is low.

PMID:
8143967
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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