Tulane Doctors ~ Gastroenterology ~ Hepatitis B (HBV)

hepatitis B virus illustrationHepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver. In acute infection patients may experience nausea, vomiting, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), and abdominal pain. Infection in adults is usually acquired through sexual contact or needle sticks. Most adults will clear the acute infection and be protected from hepatitis B infection thereafter. A small percentage of patients will remain chronically infected with the virus remaining in their blood and liver indefinitely. Chronic infection can lead to severe liver scarring and liver failure (cirrhosis). It also puts the patient at higher risk of liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma). Young children may become chronically infected during the birth process or through household exposure. Infected children do not often acquire the acute symptoms listed above; however, their lifetime risk of cirrhosis and cancer is high if not treated. Treatment of chronic hepatitis B can suppress the virus and decrease the risk of chronic liver damage. We specialize in the individualized treatment of chronic HBV and offer clinical trials that are advancing the field. Patients are often followed with occasional blood tests. A liver biopsy is occasionally recommended to guide treatment.

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