Phylogenetic analysis indicates transmission of hepatitis C virus from an infected orthopedic surgeon to a patient

R. Stefan Ross, Sergei Viazov, Michael Roggendorf

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51 Scopus citations


During recent years, a controversial discussion has emerged in the medical community on the real number and possible public health implications of hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmissions from infected medical staff to susceptible patients. We report here on molecular virological and epidemiological analyses involving 229 patients who underwent exposure-prone operations by an HCV-infected orthopedic surgeon. Of the 229 individuals affected, 207 could be tested. Three were positive for HCV antibodies. Molecular and epidemiological investigation revealed that two of them were not infected by the surgeon. The third patient, a 50-year-old man, underwent complicated total hip arthroplasty with trochanteric osteotomy. He harbored an HCV 2b isolate that in phylogenetic analysis of the hypervariable region 1 (HVR 1) was closely related to the HCV strain recovered from the infected surgeon, indicating that HCV-provider-to-patient transmission occurred intraoperatively. To our knowledge, this is the first documented case of HCV transmission by an orthopedic surgeon. The recorded transmission rate of 0.48% (95% confidence interval: 0.09-2.68%) was within the same range reported previously for the spread of hepatitis B virus during orthopedic procedures. Since the result of our investigation sustains the notion that patients may contract HCV from infected health-care workers during exposure-prone procedures, a series of further retrospective exercises is needed to assess more precisely the risk of HCV provider-to-patient transmission and to delineate from these studies recommendations for the guidance and management of HCV-infected medical personnel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-467
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Nosocomial infection
  • Phylogenetic analysis
  • Provider-to-patient transmission


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