Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CT. email@example.com.
Infection with hepatitis C virus is the most common indication for liver transplantation in the United States. Although recurrence of hepatitis C virus infection is universal following transplantation, the natural history of posttransplantation hepatitis C varies. In general, however, posttransplant hepatitis C virus infection progresses relatively quickly, with 10%-20% of patients developing cirrhosis within 5 years. Risk factors for severe recurrent hepatitis C include donor age, female sex, treatment of rejection, preservation injury, and high viral load pretransplant or early posttransplant. Type of allograft, infection with cytomegalovirus, or type of calcineurin inhibitor used may not play a role. Treatment with interferon + ribavirin in recurrent hepatitis C virus shows mixed results. Sustained virologic response has been observed in only 8%-30% of patients, and side effects of these medications are considerable. Protease inhibitors are not yet approved for the posttransplant population, but clinical trials are under way.