Investigation of chronic hepatitis C infection in individuals with haemophilia: assessment of invasive and non-invasive methods.
Hanley JP., Jarvis LM., Andrews J., Dennis R., Lee R., Simmonds P., Piris J., Hayes P., Ludlam CA.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the major cause of chronic liver disease in individuals with haemophilia. A wide spectrum of disease severity is found in this group, ranging from mild hepatitis to cirrhosis. We have studied a cohort of 87 anti-HCV positive haemophiliacs who have been infected with HCV for 10-25 years and assessed the relative value of invasive and non-invasive methods of evaluating liver disease. The severity of liver disease was assessed using ultrasound scan (n = 77), upper GI endoscopy (n = 50), laparoscopic liver inspection (n = 33) and liver biopsy (n = 22). Invasive investigations were performed without any significant bleeding complications. Evidence of severe liver disease was found in approximately 25% of patients. There was agreement between the severity of liver histology and the information derived from the laparoscopic liver inspection, endoscopy and ultrasound in 86%. Co-infection with HIV was significantly associated with more severe liver disease (P = 0.006). This study provides further evidence that liver disease is emerging as a major complication in haemophiliacs and severe liver disease is more common in those co-infected with HIV. We have shown the potential value of laparoscopic liver inspection, in combination with endoscopy and ultrasound, in staging the extent of liver disease, and suggest that most patients may be managed without resorting to liver biopsy.