Meta-analysis: Effect of hepatitis C virus infection on mortality in dialysis

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004 Dec;20(11-12):1271-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2004.02290.x.


Background: The natural history of hepatitis C virus infection among patients on long-term dialysis treatment remains incompletely understood. Efforts to elucidate the natural history of hepatitis C virus in this population are difficult because of the slowly progressive nature of hepatitis C virus with often an unrecognized onset in patients whose life-expectancy is substantially diminished by end-stage renal disease.

Aim: To conduct a systematic review of the published medical literature concerning the impact of hepatitis C virus infection on the survival of patients receiving chronic dialysis. The relative risk of mortality was regarded as the most reliable outcome end-point.

Methods: We used the random effects model of DerSimonian and Laird to generate a summary estimate of the relative risk for mortality with hepatitis C virus across the published studies.

Results: We identified four clinical trials (2341 unique patients); three (75%) of them were prospective, cohort studies; the fourth was a case-control study. Pooling of study results demonstrated that presence of antihepatitis C virus antibody was an independent and significant risk factor for death in patients on maintenance dialysis. The summary estimate for relative risk was 1.57 with a 95% confidence interval (CI) of 1.33-1.86. A test for homogeneity of the relative risks across the four studies gave a P-value of 0.77. As a cause of death, hepatocellular carcinoma and liver cirrhosis were significantly more frequent among antihepatitis C virus-positive than -negative dialysis patients.

Conclusions: This meta-analysis demonstrates that antihepatitis C virus-positive patients on dialysis have an increased risk of mortality compared with hepatitis C virus-negative patients. The excess risk of death in hepatitis C virus-positive patients may be at least partially attributed to chronic liver disease with its attendant complications. Clinical trials with extended follow-up are currently under way to assess the effect of hepatitis C virus treatment on the excess risk of mortality in this population.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / mortality*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / virology
  • Prognosis
  • Renal Dialysis / mortality*
  • Survival Rate