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Recipient hepatectomy technique may affect oncological outcomes of Liver Transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma.

BACKGROUND: To date, caval sparing (CS) and total caval replacement (TCR) for recipient hepatectomy in liver transplantation (LT) have been compared only in terms of surgical morbidity. Nonetheless, CS technique is inherently associated with an increased manipulation of the native liver and later exclusion of the venous outflow, which may increase the risk of intraoperative shedding of tumor cells when LT is performed for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

METHODS: A multicenter, retrospective study was performed to assess the impact of recipient hepatectomy (CS vs. TCR) on the risk of post-transplant HCC recurrence, among 16 European Transplant Centers that used either TCR or CS recipient hepatectomy, as elective protocol technique. Exclusion criteria comprised cases of non-Center-protocol recipient hepatectomy technique, living-donor LT, HCC diagnosis suspected on preoperative imaging but not confirmed at pathological examination of the explanted liver, HCC in close contact with the inferior vena cava and previous liver resection for HCC.

RESULTS: In 2420 patients, CS and TCR approaches were used in 1452 (60%) and 968 (40%) cases, respectively. Group adjustment with inverse probability weighting was performed for high volume center, recipient age, alcohol abuse, viral hepatitis, Child-Pugh class C, MELD score, cold ischemia time, clinical HCC stage within Milan criteria, pre-LT downstaging/bridging therapies, pre-LT AFP serum levels, number and size of tumor nodules, microvascular invasion and complete necrosis of all tumor nodules (matched cohort, TCR, n=938; CS, n=935). In a multivariate cause-specific hazard model, CS was associated with a higher risk of HCC recurrence(HR 1.536, p=0.007).

CONCLUSIONS: TCR recipient hepatectomy, compared to CS approach, may be associated with some protective effect against post-LT tumor recurrence.

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