Background and Aim: Guidelines for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B have been recently updated in the 2009 European Association for the Study of the Liver consensus statement, the 2008 US Panel, the 2008 Asian–Pacific consensus statement, and the 2009 American Association for the Study of Liver Disease practice guidelines. We sought to determine whether these guidelines identified patients who developed hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or who died of non-HCC liver-related deaths for antiviral therapy.
Methods: The criteria described in the new treatment guidelines were matched to the database of 369 hepatitis B surface antigen-positive patients, in whom 30 developed HCC and 37 died of non-HCC liver-related deaths during a mean follow up of 84 months.
Results: Using criteria for antiviral therapy as stated by the four current guidelines, 19–30% of patients who died of non-HCC liver-related complications, and 23–53% of patients who developed HCC, would have been excluded for antiviral therapy. If baseline serum albumin levels of ≤ 3.5 g/dL or platelet counts of ≤ 130 000 mm3 were included into the treatment criteria, then 85–94% of patients who developed liver-related complications would have been recommended for antiviral therapy. Also, the addition of precore A1896 mutants and basal core promoter T1762/A1764 mutants would have identified 98.5–100% of these patients.
Conclusion: The updated treatment guidelines for hepatitis B still excluded patients who developed serious liver-related complications. The inclusion of baseline serum albumin and platelet counts to current criteria would have identified a majority of these patients for antiviral therapy. These tests should be included into hepatitis B treatment strategies.