Recurrent hepatitis B infection after liver transplantation was previously frequent and associated with significant allograft failure and mortality. Recurrence rates of hepatitis B were improved with the use of passive immunoprophylaxis with hepatitis B immune globulin, and later, lamivudine monotherapy. Combination prophylaxis with intravenous hepatitis B immune globulin and lamivudine substantially decreased rates of hepatitis B recurrence, but intravenous administration of hepatitis B immune globulin was expensive and associated with significant adverse effects. In the current study, 59 patients receiving primary liver transplantation for chronic hepatitis B infection were prospectively followed up after converting from intravenous to intramuscular hepatitis B immune globulin in combination with lamivudine. All patients tolerated intramuscular hepatitis B immune globulin well. At a median follow-up of 511 days after conversion to intramuscular hepatitis B immune globulin, 58 of 59 patients (98.3%) were hepatitis B surface antigen-negative. Twenty-one patients (35.6%) required a median of one supplemental intravenous hepatitis B immune globulin infusion to maintain therapeutic antibody levels. Economic analysis showed an average cost-effectiveness ratio for combination intramuscular hepatitis B immune globulin plus lamivudine of $52,600 per recurrence prevented, which was far below the cost of lamivudine monotherapy and of intravenous hepatitis B immune globulin alone or in combination with lamivudine. These results suggest that intramuscular administration of hepatitis B immune globulin in combination with lamivudine offers a safe, effective, and cost-effective approach to preventing hepatitis B recurrence after orthotopic liver transplantation.
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