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Abstract

Background & Aims

Chronic hepatitis C may be associated with cirrhosis, liver failure and hepatocellular carcinoma. Studies have demonstrated improved clinical outcome in patients who achieved a sustained viral response (SVR).

Methods

A systematic literature search was performed to identify studies that assessed the association between SVR and cirrhosis regression. The main outcome studied was cirrhosis regression in patients with a SVR as compared with patients without a SVR. Six studies totalling 443 patients were included. Dichotomous outcomes were reported as risk ratios (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Results

Of the 443 patients with cirrhosis, 137 achieved a SVR. Of these 137 patients who achieved an SVR, 73 (53%) patients had regression of cirrhosis. The risk ratio of cirrhosis regression was 2.69 [Confidence Interval (CI) 1.45–4.97, P < 0.01] in patients who achieved a SVR. The risk of cirrhosis regression was consistently in favour of patients who achieved a SVR regardless of the length of the biopsy or whether the biopsy was reviewed by a single or multiple pathologists. The risk ratio of cirrhosis regression was related to the duration of follow-up between biopsies. The relative risk for regression of cirrhosis in studies in which the mean or median time for the follow-up liver biopsy was greater than 36-month was 4.33 (CI 1.1–17.0, P = 0.04) as compared to a relative risk of 1.79 (CI 1.26–2.29, P < 0.01) in studies with a mean or median time between the follow-up biopsy of less than 36-month.

Conclusions

Our results suggest that the majority of patients with cirrhosis who achieve a SVR develop cirrhosis regression. Time between biopsies appears to be an important determinant of the likelihood of cirrhosis regression.