Hepatitis C viral infection is currently the leading cause of chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis. It also is a major predisposing factor for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma. It is estimated that approximately 1-2% of patients with hepatitis C infection have nonhepatic manifestations that are protean in nature. In this report, we describe six unusual cases of nonhepatic manifestations: abdominal vasculitis in two, peripheral neuropathy in two, and one patient each with central nervous system vasculitis and necrotizing cutaneous vasculitis. All patients had cutaneous vasculitis and cryoglobulinemia. None of our patients had cirrhosis, yet three of the six patients died. Because of the severe manifestations, aggressive therapy was instituted with interferon, immunosuppressive medications, i.v. immunoglobulin, and plasmapheresis. Our report underscores the importance of recognizing nonhepatic manifestations in patients with hepatitis C infection that may be associated with high morbidity and mortality.
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