, Volume 398, Issue 1, pp 71-77
Date: 09 Oct 2012

Liver transplantation for hilar cholangiocarcinoma—a single-centre experience

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Cholangiocarcinoma is an infrequent malignancy, often unresectable at the time of diagnosis. Liver transplantation may offer a chance for cure, but results in the past have been disappointing, prompting transplant centres to adopt multimodal treatment protocols and extreme patient selection.


This study was designed to evaluate the outcome of patients with irresectable hilar cholangiocarcinoma undergoing liver transplantation in order to determine criteria for patient selection.


We reviewed our prospective cancer registry for patients with hilar cholangiocarcinoma treated by transplantation since 1997. Data were evaluated regarding tumour location, stage, overall survival, recurrence rates and prognostic factors.


Liver transplantation with lymphadenectomy was realised in 16 patients with hilar cholangiocarcinoma. Seven patients received a living donor graft. Lymph node metastases were found in eight patients with a median of 13 harvested nodes and had a statistically significant negative impact on overall survival irrespective of tumour size. Only one patient underwent neoadjuvant brachytherapy and developed fatal septic complications; 3- and 5-year survival rates were 63 and 50 % in lymph node-negative patients without neoadjuvant treatment.


Acceptable survival rates can be achieved by transplantation for hilar cholangiocarcinoma with lymph node metastases as the only exclusion criterion. We recommend staging laparotomy with lymphadenectomy along the common hepatic artery prior to liver transplantation.