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Aug 6, 2004

Dr. McGovern, I was given Hep.B Shots when I work at the hospital 4 years ago. Now I have a swollen liver and my doctor said it looked like I was getting over Hep.B and my imune system was very very low to Hepatitis. Now I am having to repeate the shots and they told me I also have a fatty liver and everyone around me should be tested for Hep.B. What does all this mean for me and my family? They talk in circles and never give me a straight answer. Sould I be seeing someone about m liver too? Thank You Rebecca

Response from Dr. McGovern

Sometimes when patients are vaccinated against hepatitis B, their antibody levels do not rise to "protective" levels. Therefore, if you were somehow exposed to hepatitis B in the hospital (ie a needlestick) you could have acquired hepatitis B which is causing your liver to become "swollen".

I would assume that they are telling you to have your family seen because your physician thinks you recently became infected with hepatitis B which can be spread within households. Your immediate family members should be vaccinated.

You should recover from your hepatitis B infection since the vast majority of patients do. However, this will require follow-up blood testing over 6 months to be certain that all your tests suggest recovery.

If you are also being told of a "fatty liver" this is probably something they are seeing on ultrasound or CT scan. Fatty liver can be just an incidental finding. However, I would ask my doctor if my liver function tests are abnormal after you recover from your hepatitis B. If they remain abnormal, then you may want to pursue a liver biopsy to be certain that the fat in your liver is not inflammed - something called "steatohepatitis." Dr. McGovern



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