Results of salvage liver transplantation

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Background & Aims:

Salvage liver transplantation (SLT) is an attractive sequential strategy which combines liver resection (LR) for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), followed by liver transplant (LT) in the event of HCC recurrence or progressive liver deterioration. To compare the long-term results of SLT with primary liver transplant (PLT).


Between 2000 and 2011, 125 patients (72 transplantable) underwent LR and 226 underwent LT in our unit. The outcome of SLT was analysed in a two-step fashion: firstly, SLT (n = 28) was compared with PLT (n = 198), secondly an intention-to-treat analysis was performed on all transplantable HCC patients who underwent LR (LRT group = 72) compared to PLT (n = 198).


The five-year overall survival (OS) was 65.4% vs. 49.2% (P = 0.63), and disease-free survival (DFS) was 89.7% vs. 80.6% (P = 0.31) for PLT and SLT respectively.


Predictive factors for DFS after LT included HCC total diameter [hazard ratio (HR) 1.29 P = 0.003], alpha-foetoprotein (HR 1.002 P < 0.001) and number of HCC nodules (HR 1.317 P = 0.035), whereas viral hepatitis C positivity (HR 1.911 P = 0.03) and outside Up-to-seven criteria (HR 2.652 P < 0.001) were negative independent prediction factors of OS. Intention-to-treat analysis showed that OS at 5 years was improved in PLT vs. LRT (LRT n = 72 including SLT plus LR group) and was 69.4% vs. 42.2% (P < 0.004), with an additional increase in DFS (89.2% vs. 54.5% respectively P < 0.001).


Salvage liver transplantation is a safe treatment strategy, as it does not impair long-term survival. At intention-to-treat analysis, PLT showed improved survival compared with LRT.

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