Hepatocellular Carcinoma Complicated with Coexisting Hepatolithiasis: Pitfalls in Diagnosis and Management

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Nineteen patients with hepatocellular carcinoma associated with hepatolithiasis were retrospectively analyzed. Eleven of the 19 patients presented with hepatolithiasis-related biliary infection. Diagnosis was erroneously assumed to be hepatolithiasis alone, liver abscess, or cholangiocarcinoma in five of 11 patients before surgery was attempted. Middle-age, male sex, liver cirrhosis, hepatitis B or C infection, abnormal α-fetoprotein, and negative carcino-embryonic antigen raised the suspicion of associated hepatocellular carcinoma rather than cholangiocarcinoma in patients with hepatolithiasis. Antibiotics and nonoperative methods to resolve biliary infection first, followed by hepatectomy, in selected cases, to eradicate hepatocellular carcinoma and hepatolithiasis simultaneously provides the best chance for long-term survival. Otherwise, patients often died of hepatolithiasis-related biliary sepsis rather than hepatocellular carcinoma per se in the long run.

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