Liver transplantation and hepatitis B

During a liver transplant, your damaged liver is removed and replaced with a healthy one from an organ donor.

The role of liver transplantation in the treatment of long-term (chronic) hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is controversial, because transplanted organs can become reinfected with HBV.

  • Recurrent infections are often severe, leading to rapid failure of the transplanted liver.
  • High doses of hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) are given to try to prevent reinfection.
  • Short-term pre- and post-transplantation therapy with a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI), such as entecavir and telbivudine, may help prevent reinfection of a transplanted liver.1
  • Interferon and peginterferon are not used to prevent reinfection of a transplanted liver.1

Liver transplants generally are done at large medical centers. Transplantation is very expensive.

Citations

  1. Malet PF (2008). Chronic hepatitis. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 4, chap. 8. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker.

Last Updated: August 6, 2009

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