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Many people with Hepatitis C Virus will not experience any symptoms, those who do may have
If the initial acute phase of HCV develops into chronic and liver damage occurs, known as cirrhosis, the patient may experience
Diagnosis of HCV infection includes serology testing of the blood serum, biopsy examination of the liver tissue, immunohistology of the specimens, biomarker testing, ultrasonography, CT scan examination.The interpretation of the HCV tests of infants is misleading due to the presence of the maternal antibodies in the infant’s blood for as long as 18 months.
The most commonly used diagnostic tool for HCV is blood testing for the presence of anti-HCV antibody and HCV viral load.
Abnormal liver function tests are a sign of hepatitis. Elevation of the liver enzymes ALT/AST signifies inflammation and possible damage. However, the inflammation could be due to other factors besides hepatitis such as to alcohol and drugs. In addition, the elevation of ALT/AST might not be detectable in the initial period of HCV but will appear within seven weeks of the infection.
The biopsy is not required for diagnosis, however, it is useful in the management of the HCV infection. The severity of liver damage can be judged by the liver biopsy. Recent studies show that 25% of patients with HCV will show inflammation on liver biopsy and 30% will show fibrosis (damage to the tissue).
Because of the long and silent window period from exposure to illness, HCV infection is usually identified at a later stage. It is recommended that the screening for HCV be conducted regularly in the high-risk group. Patients with abnormal liver function test should also check the presence of HCV. The baby boomer generation is at increased risk and should be tested at least once in a lifetime for Hep C.
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