Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major problem associated with hemodialysis. The extent of liver damage in hemodialysis patients with chronic HCV infection has not been thoroughly documented. The aim of this study was to evaluate liver damage of hemodialysis patients infected with HCV. A total of 233 hemodialysis patients were categorized into two groups at entry: group X, 80 positive for serum HCV RNA, and group Y, 153 negative for serum HCV RNA. All were tested for serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) serially from 1989 to 1998, and serum hyaluronic acid (HA), serum type-IV collagen (IV-C), platelet counts, and ultrasonographic examination of the liver was done in 1998. In group X, 61.3% had continuously abnormal ALT levels for over six months followed by normal ALT levels. Of the group X patients, 11.3% had abnormal ALT levels in 1998, and in three, hepatocellular carcinoma occurred. Mean HA and IV-C levels in group X (648.8 and 188.7 ng/ml, respectively) were significantly higher than in group Y (213.1 and 165.5 ng/ml, respectively) (P < 0.05). Ultrasonographic findings significantly correlated with serum HA level and platelet counts and showed significantly more abnormalities in group X than in group Y (P < 0.05). From these findings, a combined examination with ultrasonography and serum fibrogenesis markers is useful for detection of liver damage in hemodialysis patients with HCV viremia.
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