OBJECTIVE: To examine data on very low-level viremic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections in patients reporting to a gastroenterology clinic, and to investigate methods to improve analysis to avoid missing follow-up data and improve the management of HBV infection, and minimize morbidity and mortality outcomes.
METHODS: A total of 104 patients with very low-level viremic HBV whom reported to the gastroenterology clinic at Al-Hada Armed Forces Hospital, Taif, Saudi Arabia and had a reading of <12 IU/mL on the real time (RT) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detection system were enrolled in this study. For serological testing (for example, hepatitis B surface antigen [HBsAg]), we examined patients' results recorded in the laboratory information system since early 2007. Liver enzymes, alanine aminotransferase, and aspartate aminotransferase were assessed in some cases.
RESULTS: After analyzing the data collected from 1,178 patients, we found 104 (8.83%) cases that fit the criteria for our study, including a reading of <12 IU/mL. We formed 6 groups of participants based on HBsAg reactivity and very low, elevated, or no viremia, and found 4 cases of continuous occult hepatitis B infection.
CONCLUSION: The very low levels of DNA found had a diagnostic impact on the management of HBI and yielded several suggestions for clinicians regarding follow-up with patients. It is important to use a sensitive RT PCR to monitor the course of HBV infection.