After SVR Maintenance Visits
It is critically important to maintain liver health appointments for aftercare of hepatitis C. For people who have been treated for hep C and have cleared the virus, your doctor may recommend that you maintain follow-up appointments. Especially if you have a damaged liver, or what is called cirrhosis, it is vital that you get regular check-ups and scans of your liver.1
How often do I need these check-ups?
Your doctor will decide how often you need to have follow-up testing or office visits to monitor your liver health. However, for advanced liver disease, the general recommendation is every 6 months.1 For those like me, that may mean some sort of CT scan or MRI of the liver. I am stage 4 cirrhotic, and it is important to keep those regular visits, as the main threat I face after having cleared the hep C virus is liver cancer. It is very important to have these scans and blood work, even though we hate to think about it!
How can I remember?
I am thankful to have a great team of liver specialists constantly reminding me to make and keep appointments. But, if you are not in a situation where you get these friendly reminders, I encourage you to set reminders on a calendar at home. Come up with a way to help you remember to call and schedule those maintenance visits. It will then be up to your team of physicians as to how frequently or what testing is needed and when.
What happens at these visits?
Here’s what to expect at follow-up visits:1
- Blood draws (these will forever be a part of liver health)
- Medication reviews (if any)
- Scans (if required by your doctor; be sure to schedule in advance!)
- Weight and blood pressure checks
- Review of any new symptoms you are having
My personal situation is one that I have a few nodules on my liver and pancreas that we are keeping our eye on. These check-ups are important to ensure my liver remains heading in the right direction, and to reduce the chances of cancer coming into the picture. While I’m at my appointment, I will also schedule my next visit 6 months out. This helps ensure I’m sticking to a regular routing with check-ups and don’t wind up having to wait longer.
In my experience, these visits are usually short and sweet, and that is what we want to see. But it also is good to maintain these regular visits/scans to keep close watch on any new lesions or problems that may come up. Those of you with healthier livers may not be asked not to return for a year, and by all means, that is good too. But, keep up with those maintenance visits no matter what stage of the disease, as recommended by your doctor.
Have you been diagnosed with cirrhosis?