, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 624-629
Date: 21 Apr 2009

Actual therapeutic efficacy of pre-transplant treatment on hepatocellular carcinoma and its impact on survival after salvage living donor liver transplantation

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The exact efficacy of pre-liver transplant (LT) therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and the impact on survival after LT remain controversial in regard to salvage LT.

Materials and methods

Of 79 patients transplanted in Nagasaki University Hospital between August 1997 and December 2007, 29 patients (36.7%) were indicated for HCC based on the Milan criteria using computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. Pre-LT therapy other than liver resection had been performed in 18 cases (62.1%) for 24 lesions. Treated lesions were analyzed histologically using thin slices of the whole explanted liver.


Pre-LT therapy included transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) for 10 lesions, percutaneous ethanol injection (PEI) + TACE for 1 lesion, PEI in 6 lesions and ablation therapy in 7 lesions. Under preoperative imaging study, 19 lesions (79.1%) were “thought-to-be” necrotic by pre-LT therapy. However, histologically, viable HCCs were still observed in 9 lesions (9/19 47%). A median interval between the first pre-therapy and LT was 22 months, while last pre-LT therapy and LT was 11 months. No sarcomatous HCC or forced portal venous tumor thrombus was found in all cases with residual lesions. One peritoneal recurrence has occurred after LT, in whom PEI and RFA had been performed before LDLT. The disease free survival after LDLT was comparable to that of cases without pre-LT therapy.


Half of the preoperatively “thought-to-be” necrotic lesions still contained viable HCC cells after the pre-LT treatment. Overall, the history of pre-LT therapy does not preclude or interfere with subsequent LT, although percutaneous treatment may spread disseminated tumor cell growth under immunosuppression.