Journal Article

Risk of death and liver cirrhosis in anti‐HCV‐positive long‐term haemodialysis patients

Mario Espinosa, Alejandro Martin‐Malo, Maria Antonia Alvarez de Lara and Pedro Aljama

in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Published on behalf of European Renal Association - European Dialysis and Transplant Assoc

Volume 16, issue 8, pages 1669-1674
Published in print August 2001 | ISSN: 0931-0509
Published online August 2001 | e-ISSN: 1460-2385 | DOI:
Risk of death and liver cirrhosis in anti‐HCV‐positive long‐term haemodialysis patients

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Background. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the most common cause of chronic liver disease in haemodialysis patients. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of HCV infection on patient survival in a cohort of long‐term haemodialysis patients and to evaluate the percentage of anti‐HCV‐positive patients that evolve to liver cirrhosis.

Methods. In 1992, 175 patients who had been on intermittent haemodialysis therapy for at least 6 months were included in the study (57 anti‐HCV‐positive and 118 anti‐HCV‐negative patients). Evaluation of patient outcome included date and cause of death, kidney transplantation, and the diagnosis of liver cirrhosis. Patient survival was estimated by the Kaplan–Meier method and compared by the log‐rank test. The Cox proportional hazards model was used to estimate the risk of death among dialysis patients who were anti‐HCV positive. Other prognostic variables studied included age, gender, diabetes mellitus as cause of end‐stage renal disease (ESRD), history of previous transplant, transplantation during follow‐up, and time on haemodialysis treatment. The diagnosis of liver cirrhosis was made based on clinical and/or histological criteria.

Results. Eight‐year patient survival in anti‐HCV‐positive subjects was lower (32%) than in anti‐HCV‐negative patients (52%) (log‐rank, P=0.03). Four variables were found to be independent prognostic factors in patient survival: age (relative risk (RR) 1.04); diabetes as cause of ESRD (RR 3.6); transplantation during follow‐up (RR 0.66) and presence of HCV antibodies (RR 1.62). The causes of death did not differ significantly between groups, except that four anti‐HCV‐positive patients died from liver disease. Ten (17.5%) of the 57 anti‐HCV‐positive patients were diagnosed to have liver cirrhosis at a median of 10 years after renal replacement therapy initiation and a median of 7 years after the first ALT level increase.

Conclusion. In conclusion, our study shows an increased risk of death among long‐term haemodialysis patients infected with HCV compared with non‐infected patients. This might be partly explained by the high proportion of these patients that evolve to liver cirrhosis.

Keywords: cirrhosis; death; haemodialysis; hepatitis C virus; survival

Journal Article.  4207 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Nephrology

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