Microvascular invasion (MVI) is a strong risk factor for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) meeting the Milan criteria and who have received curative hepatectomy. The relevance of a second hepatectomy in patients with MVI-positive recurrent HCC remains controversial.
We had 329 cases of HCC hepatectomy meeting the Milan criteria and compared data on patient demographics, liver function, and tumor pathology between MVI-positive and MVI-negative group. We analyzed potential risk factors of overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS). Furthermore, newly developed pathological features following the second hepatectomy were also analyzed.
The median OS and DFS were significantly superior in the MVI-negative group than in the MVI-positive group, 61 (10–81) versus 49 (11–82) months (P < 0.01) and 41 (7–75) versus 13 (3–69) months (P < 0.01), respectively. The presence of MVI and a total tumor diameter >3 cm were independent risk factors associated with both OS and DFS. Overall survival was significantly improved by a second hepatectomy in the MVI-positive group compared with the original MVI-positive group, 60 (26–82) versus 49 (11–82) months, respectively. This was now comparable to the MVI-negative group, 60 (26–82) versus 61 (10–81) months (P = 0.72). A second hepatectomy was consistently associated with better survival in the MVI-negative group as compared to the MVI-positive group.
A second hepatectomy improves survival in patients with MVI HCC meeting the Milan criteria. The biology of MVI may change following a second hepatectomy. The absence of MVI is a good prognostic sign for patients undergoing second hepatectomy.