Hepatitis B is a disease that causes inflammation in the liver. Hepatitis B (HBV for short) is caused by a virus, and is one of the most common types of hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis B cirrhosis (scarring and dysfunction of the liver), liver cancer, liver failure, and death.
The doctors at the Center for Advanced Digestive Care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center are experts in the care of patients with hepatitis B. Patients receive the full range of care, including personalized medical therapy with the latest medications and monitoring. NewYork-Presbyterian physicians have directed and participated in major studies that led to the development of the standard viral hepatitis therapies used today, as well as those evaluating investigational drugs and new treatment regimens.
NewYork-Presbyterian's Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation excels in providing liver transplantation to patients with HBV and has more clinical experience caring for these patients than most hospitals.
Causes of Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B (HBV) is a blood-borne microorganism transmitted by exposure to the hepatitis B virus through infectious body fluids. About 1.4 million Americans have chronic hepatitis B infection, and about 350 million individuals worldwide have this disease. However, since many HBV infections do not cause symptoms or not reported, the number of people infected with HBV is likely to be higher.
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Symptoms of Hepatitis B
About a third of those infected with HBV have no symptoms. Symptoms in other individuals may include jaundice (yellowish tint to skin and/or eyes), fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, dark-colored urine, light-colored stools, and joint pain. Many patients with chronic HBV infection have no symptoms until they are diagnosed with cirrhosis or end-stage liver disease.
Patients whose hepatitis has caused cirrhosis may experience fatigue, weakness, itching, dark urine, fluid buildup in the legs (edema) or abdomen (ascites), nausea, and reduced appetite.
Diagnosing Hepatitis B
A blood test can determine whether patients are infected with hepatitis B by detecting certain antigens and antibodies in a patient's blood. These antigens and antibodies can reveal if the virus is present and whether an individual is acutely or chronically infected. Blood tests may also be performed to examine a patient's liver enzymes.
In some patients, our physicians may perform a computed tomography (CT) scan, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or liver biopsy (removal and examination of a sample of liver tissue) to further assess liver damage.
Hepatitis B Prevention and Treatment
Hepatitis B can be prevented through vaccination. While there is no treatment for acute HBV infection, chronic infection can be treated with antiviral drugs. Individuals with chronic HBV infection need to be assessed regularly to determine whether the disease is progressing, and to determine whether the liver is damaged.
Hepatitis B Research
CADC investigators continue to lead studies of new treatments for HBV. Patients who come to the CADC for their hepatitis care may have opportunities to participate in these clinical trials.
NewYork-Presbyterian also participates in the Center for the Study of Hepatitis C, a collaborative research and treatment partnership comprised of physicians and researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College, The Rockefeller University, and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.