Natural history of compensated viral cirrhosis: a prospective study on the incidence and hierarchy of major complications

Benvegnà, L.; Gios, M.; Boccato, S.; Alberti, A.
May 2004
Gut;May2004, Vol. 53 Issue 5, p744
Academic Journal
Background and aims: The natural history of initially compensated cirrhosis due to hepatitis B (HBV) or hepatitis C (HCV) virus is only partially defined. We have investigated morbidity and mortality rates and the hierarchy of complications in compensated viral cirrhosis over a long follow up period. Patients and Methods: A cohort of Italian patients with initially compensated cirrhosis of viral aetiology were followed up at six monthly intervals with laboratory tests to identify major complications (ascites, gastrointestinal bleeding, portal-systemic encephalopothy, hepatocellular carcinoma) and to assess the progression of Child's stage and mortality rate due to liver related causes. Results: Between 1986 and 1996, 312 patients (43 HBV positive, 254 HCV positive, and 15 HBV and HCV coinfected) were included. During a median follow up of 93 (range 14-194) months, 102 (32.6%) patients developed at least one complication (HCV positive 31.1%; HBV positive 34.8%; HBV and HCV coinfected 53.3%). Overall, the most frequent complication was hepatocellular carcinoma which occurred in 65 (20.8%) cases, followed by ascites (61 cases, 19.5%), gastrointestinal bleeding (14 cases, 4.5%), and portal-systemic encephalopathy (six cases, 1 .9%). Progression of Child's stage was observed in 62 patients (19.8%). Death from liver disease occurred in 58 (18.6%) cases and in 70.7% this was due to hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatocellular carcinoma was the first complication to develop in 59 cases and represented the most frequent first complication in both HCY and HBV/ HCV related cirrhosis. Conclusions: These results indicate significant morbidity and mortality during the first decade after diagnosis of compensated cirrhosis due to HBV and/or HCV, and identify hepatocellular carcinoma as the most frequent and life threatening complication, particularly in HCV positive cases.


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