Sep 24

My Liver Biposy Prior To Hepatitis C Treatment

OK, so it has been a long time since my last post. The reason for that is basically not a lot has happened recently. I have been ‘watchfully waiting’ as regards the Hepatitis C virus. I was offered treatment last year (July) but put it off whilst I settled into a new job. The new job meant a geographical relocation and therefore also a change in doctor and hospital.

In the UK due to all the admin etcetera this meant it took a while for me to get through the system to see the specialists. Now, after several appointments with the new consultant we have formed a plan. I shall be having a Liver biopsy very shortly, tomorrow in fact, to check exactly how well my liver is doing. I was offered a fibro-scan but was told that the information that that would provide would not be as accurate overall.

I just figure if I’m going to do something I might as well do it properly, especially seeing as I have to make a major decision based upon the results. Basically, the doctor has said that if my liver seems to be doing ok and has minimal ‘damage’ than I might be in a position to wait for new interferon free treatments to come along. Based upon my research it looks like that would perhaps be a 3-5 year wait, but no-one can really say for sure (Hep C Drug Updates here). And certainly the doctor has no real idea what state my liver would be in by then.

After the biopsy I will then be seeing the consultant three weeks later and we will make a decision on whether I will go ahead with treatment or not. I’m obviously really torn between the two. I have a great life right now, I don’t suffer at all from any symptoms from hep c and enjoy a very active lifestyle, weight lifting, thai boxing and trekking being my regular pursuits. In fact I just came back from a month in the Nepali Himalayas, which was awesome and would loathe to give this active fantastic lifestyle up.

However, on the other hand the chances of me clearing the disease are around 70% if I adhere to the treatment, which seem really pretty good odds. Allied to the fact that we will know after a month if the treatment is actually working or not. Clearly if it is not working then treatment would be discontinued. So, clearly, a tricky decision to make. I guess in my mind I am leaning towards treatment at the moment, I would love to be free of this thing and get back to enjoying my life without having to worry about this thing. Plus I do enjoy to have a beer and don’t really think it is likely that I can go the rest of my life without having another beer with my mates, I’m only human after all!

Anyway, I’ll do another blog post closer to decision day, but for now let’s focus on the Liver biopsy. I am doing tomorrow. The following paragraph is taken directly from a pamphlet given to me by my doctor, conveniently entitled: ‘Taking a Sample Of Your Liver’ by the NHS, it explains the procedure thus:

“You will need to change into a hospital gown for the test. The test will be performed in the x-ray department. You will be asked to lie on your back with your right arm tucked behind your head. The doctor will clean the skin on the right side of your lower chest with an antiseptic agent. You will then receive an injection of local anaesthetic into your skin. This may sting for a few seconds and then numbs the skin. Once the area is nicely numb you will be ready for the sample of your liver to be removed. The doctor will ask you to hold your breath for a few seconds whilst the needle is placed into your liver. You will hear a click when the sample is taken and the needle will be removed. The needle is in the liver for only a few seconds.”

Sounds like a piece of cake hey. I think the worst part of it will be the fact that I have to lie down for 6 hours after the sample has been taken. This is monitor for complications, the most likely of which is internal bleeding. Approx 1 in 1000 patients will experience this apparently. A transfusion, operation, x-rays and more CT scans would then possibly be needed depending on the severity of the bleeding. The probability of death is 1 in 10,000. The doctor felt he had to mention this but of course, it is extremely unlikely that there will be any problems. Additionally with me being young fit guy with no liver scarring as yet, there chances of severe complications are probably reduced further.

I will wait three weeks for the results of the liver biopsy and then I will meet the specialist to hear his recommendations. I get the feeling things are going to start moving very quickly from now on as regards my hepatitis c treatment, so if you are interested you might want to pop back in a few weeks to see what’s going on. And of course if you are going through a similar thing, let me know how you are doing or if you have any advice. I’ve been watching a few clips on youtube recently to try and gain more insights before I start. It makes me feel better to know other people have successfully beaten this thing and that there are other people in the same boat.

Take care guys.

PPS, Just for the record, last stats: viral load 530,000 ml/u, ALT 90iu/l.

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