Lege Artis Medicinae

[Successful treatment of chronic hepatitis C infection accompanied by rare but reversible adverse effects]

ERŐSS Bálint Mihály, NEMESÁNSZKY Elemér

JUNE 10, 2009

Lege Artis Medicinae - 2009;19(04-05)

[INTRODUCTION - In absence of signs and symptoms characteristic of chronic hepatic disease caused by hepatitis C viral infection, its diagnosis is generally suggested by abnormal liver function tests. If viral serological activity is confirmed, combined antiviral treatment (pegylated interferon plus ribavirin) has to be considered. Antiviral treatment is accompanied by several, usually reversible adverse effects. CASE REPORT - The 62 year-old woman has had waveringly abnormal liver function results for decades. Her anamnesis included transfusions for polytraumatization that resulted in a hepatitis C virus infection. We started treatment with interferon alpha-2a plus ribavirin. At week 4 of therapy, a significant decrease in virulence and at week 12, viral negativity was confirmed, accompanied by a normalization of hepatic function markers. Because of a gradually developing anemia, beginning from month 4, the former optimal dose of ribavirin had to be reduced. At the end of week 42, severe dermatitis with fever, muscle weakness and malaise (Sweetsyndrome) developed, and antiviral therapy had to be discontinued and steroids had to be given. During a short travel abroad, the patient suffered a collaptiform episode caused by extremely high blood glucose (28.0 mmol/l). She received temporarily fractioned insulin and then combined oral antidiabetic treatment. Then, dermatosis symptoms rapidly resolved, glycemic status gradually improved, and could be controlled by low-dose metformin. Liver function tests were normal. At the end of antiretroviral treatment and 6 months later, HCV-RNA by PCR proved negative, meaning that hepatitis C virus has been eradicated successfully. CONCLUSION - Treatment with pegylated interferon alpha-2a plus ribavirin rendered viral replication undetectable at 3 months, which is - together with the normalization of abnormal liver function tests - the strongest predictor of a good outcome. The patient’s exemplary good compliance contributed to successful treatment of hepatitis C and control of these rare but reversible adverse effects.]

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