Background and aims: In chronic hepatitis C, the change of perihepatic lymph nodal size after antiviral therapy could be a marker of virologic response. Whether the on-treatment nodal manifestations predict virologic responses is unknown.
Methods: Patients (n=88) with biopsy-proven chronic hepatitis C received standard doses of bi-therapy for 24 weeks; sequential changes of the perihepatic lymph nodes were evaluated prospectively by ultrasound. Pretreatment and on-treatment factors were analyzed and correlated with sustained virologic response, focusing on early on-treatment nodal changes (12 weeks).
Results: Perihepatic lymph nodes were prevalent in 75% of the patients; 72 patients (81.8%) achieved sustained viral response. Before treatment, no factor was significantly associated with the nodal prevalence or size. The pretreatment nodal width (mean 5.3 vs. 3.6 mm; P=0.023) and the on-treatment nodal manifestations including a reduction in nodal width at 12 weeks of antiviral treatment (median; 1.05 vs. 0 mm, P=0.029) and a reduction of nodal volume at the end of treatment (24 weeks; median 0.62 vs. −0.01 ml, P=0.015) were significantly correlated with the sustained virologic response. A reduction of nodal width greater than 2.5 mm at 12 weeks always predicts sustained virologic response (100 vs. 77%; P=0.019).
Conclusion: Results confirm the high prevalence of perihepatic lymphadenopathy in patients with chronic hepatitis C. The use of the nodal width measurement in routine ultrasound follow-up may be a simpler early predictor of sustained virologic response during standard bi-therapy.