Hepatic lymph node involvement in resected cases of liver metastases from colorectal cancer
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PURPOSE: Lymph node metastasis in the hepatoduodenal ligament is known as one of the most significant prognostic factors after liver resection for colorectal metastasis. However, there have been very few articles on the clinical features of node-positive patients and on detailed distribution of positive nodes. Further, there has been no established strategy on how to handle hepatic lymph nodes during liver resection. To address these subjects, a retrospective study was conducted. METHODS: During the period of 1980 through April 1998, 182 hepatic resections were performed for metastatic colorectal carcinoma. Of these, 78 cases had hepatic lymph node sampling during the operation. Distribution of positive nodes, location of liver metastasis, stage of the primary lesion, and outcome after liver resection were analyzed. RESULTS: Nine cases (12 percent) had secondary lymph node metastases in the hepatoduodenal ligament. The incidence was slightly higher (13.5 percent) in the most recent 44 consecutive cases. There was a tendency for liver metastases in the right lobe to metastasize to No. 12b (or node of the foramen of Winslow, lymph nodes along the common bile duct) and liver metastases in the left lobe to metastasize to No. 8a (anterosuperior group of the lymph nodes along the common hepatic artery). Outcome of node-positive patients (n=9) was extremely poor (P<0.001) compared with that of node-negative patients (n=66), and the most common site of recurrence in the node-positive patients was remnant liver and hepatic lymph nodes. Preoperatively, there were no significant predicting factors for positive hepatic lymph nodes. CONCLUSIONS: No. 8a and No. 12b nodes are principal nodes that should be palpated and sampled during liver resection to check the secondary lymphatic spread from liver metastases. Hepatic nodal involvement indicates the progression of disease beyond simple liver metastases and may not be the indication for simple surgical removal. Further study, including hepatoduodenal dissection and systemic adjuvant chemotherapy, may elucidate the survival benefit, if any, of liver resection in node-positive patients.
Key wordsHepatic lymph node Liver metastases Colorectal cancer
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