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J Viral Hepat. 2007 Sep;14(9):633-8.

Therapy outcome in patients with chronic hepatitis C: role of therapy supervision by expert hepatologists.

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Klinik für Gastroenterologie, Hepatologie und Infektiologie, Universitätsklinik Düsseldorf, Moorenstr, Düsseldorf, Germany.


Previous large multicentre trials reported sustained virological response (SVR) rates of 45-80% in chronically infected hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients. However, it is unclear whether such a treatment success is also achieved in daily routine and to what extent it depends on expert hepatological supervision. This was retrospectively analysed in patients presenting at our outpatient department during May 1997 and March 2004 and receiving at least one treatment dose. A total of 302 treatment-naive HCV patients [72% genotypes 1 or 4 (n = 215), 25% genotypes 2/3 (n = 78) and 3% undetermined genotype (n = 9)] were included in the analysis. Out of these, 196 patients consulted an expert hepatologist at least once every 3 months during treatment [regular visitors (RV)], whereas in 106 patients treatment was performed and supervised by a general practitioner (irregular visitors). Both patient groups did not differ in their baseline characteristics. However, the virological response rates at the end of treatment (ETR; 146/196, 74%vs 51/106, 48%, P < 0.001) and 6 months thereafter (SVR; 129/196, 66%vs 36/106, 34%, P < 0.001) were significantly higher in RV. In patients treated with pegylated-interferon (PEG-IFN)/ribavirin, this difference was statistically highly significant (P < 0.001) for HCV genotypes 1 and 4 (treated patients: SVR: 62/101, 61%vs 14/51, 27%, P < 0.001), but not for genotypes 2/3. SVR rates were also significantly better in RV with advanced liver damage [SVR 69% (22/32) vs 25% (5/20), P = 0.004]. In regular and irregular visitors treatment was discontinued in 7% (14/196) and 15% (16/106) respectively (P = 0.015). Patients with unfavourable genotypes 1 and 4 or with advanced liver damage benefit from HCV therapy supervision by a specialist, probably because of less frequent treatment interruptions or dose reductions.

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