Coordinated care in one medical center
Infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) is one of the most common causes of hepatitis worldwide. Chronic hepatitis B can lead to cirrhosis (scarring and dysfunction of the liver), liver cancer, liver failure, and death. NewYork-Presbyterian’s liver specialists are experts in the care of people with hepatitis B, offering the latest medications and monitoring techniques. We are experienced in liver transplantation for people whose hepatitis B becomes life-threatening, with more clinical experience caring for these patients than most hospitals.
How does someone get hepatitis B?
You can become infected with hepatitis B if the blood, semen, or other bodily fluid of someone infected with the hepatitis B virus enters your body. This can happen during:
- Childbirth (when a mother with HBV transmits the virus to her baby)
- Sex with an infected partner
- Sharing needles or syringes
- Sharing items such as razors or toothbrushes with someone who has HBV
- Direct contact with the blood of an HBV-infected person
- Exposure to the blood of an infected person through needlesticks or other sharp instruments
Signs & Symptoms of Hepatitis B
Someone can have chronic (long-term) hepatitis B for many years and not even know it. People who are newly infected with acute hepatitis B and those with chronic hepatitis B who have advanced liver disease may experience:
- Abdominal pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
- Clay-colored stools
- Dark urine
- Fatigue (feeling tired)
- Joint pain
- Loss of appetite
Tests & Diagnosis
Hepatitis B can be diagnosed using simple blood tests. To examine the health of your liver, we may perform imaging tests and blood tests and take a sample of your liver tissue (liver biopsy). At NewYork-Presbyterian, we also utilize Fibroscan and magnetic resonance elastography to assess the degree of scarring in your liver without having to do a liver biopsy.
Our Approach to Care
Chronic hepatitis B requires a lifetime of treatment and monitoring. We assemble the team of liver care experts that you need, including hepatologists (liver doctors), gastroenterologists, surgeons, physician assistants, nurses, social workers, and others with experience treating HBV and other liver disorders. All of the healthcare providers you may need are available to you, in one medical center.
How we care for people with hepatitis B
There is no cure for hepatitis B, but there are steps you can take to prevent it, slow disease progression, and monitor its effects on your health. Your team will assess you periodically to determine if your disease is getting worse and see if you have liver damage, and tailor your care appropriately.
- Prevention. If you are at risk for hepatitis B, there is a vaccine you can receive to prevent it.
- Medications. Hepatitis B may require treatment with antiviral medications such as entecavir or tenofovir. The drugs used today to treat HBV are targeted therapies that work by slowing the ability of the virus to multiply.
- Surveillance for liver cancer. Chronic infection with hepatitis B is one of the most common causes of primary liver cancer. NewYork-Presbyterian has a strong surveillance program for people at risk of liver cancer, including those with chronic hepatitis B, with the hope of detecting liver cancer in its early, more curable stages.
Liver transplantation. If you have a hepatitis B infection that significantly impairs your liver function and becomes life-threatening, or if you develop liver cancer from hepatitis B, you may be eligible for a liver transplant. At NewYork-Presbyterian, we have exceptional expertise in liver transplantation and use a variety of approaches, including living donor liver transplantation.
Why Choose Us
From prevention and diagnosis to treatment and monitoring, NewYork-Presbyterian provides full-service care for people with acute or chronic hepatitis B. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.