Preoperative selective portal vein embolization before hepatectomy for liver metastases: Long-term results and impact on survival

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Background.Some patients cannot undergo curative surgical procedures for liver metastases because of the risk of severe postoperative hepatic failure, which stems from a too-small future remaining liver (FRL). Preoperative portal vein embolization (PVE) is an effective means of creating hypertrophy of the FRL, thus permitting safe hepatic resection. The aim of this retrospective study was to investigate the long-term results of this technique.Methods.Sixty-eight patients underwent PVE. Of those, 60 (88%) subsequently underwent hepatic resection. Indication for PVE was an estimated FRL ratio (assessed by volumetric computed tomography) of less than 30%. However, if the patient had undergone multiple courses of chemotherapy, the threshold was 40%. The origin of the primary neoplasm was colorectal in 41 patients (68%); in the remaining 19 (32%), the primary neoplasms originated at other sites.Results.Mean growth of the estimated FRL measured by computed tomography 1 month after PVE was 13%. Major complications after hepatectomy occurred in 27% of the patients, and the operative mortality rate was 3%. For the 60 patients who underwent PVE followed by hepatic resection, the 5-year overall survival rate and the disease-free survival rate were 34% and 24%, respectively. The 5-year overall survival rate and the disease-free survival rate of patients with colorectal metastases only were 37% and 21%, respectively.Conclusions.The long-term survival rate after PVE followed by resection is comparable with the survival rate obtained after resection without preoperative PVE. The 5-year survival rate of patients undergoing PVE followed by hepatectomy justifies the use of this technique. This technique thus increases the suitability of resection as a treatment choice for patients with liver metastases. PVE should number among the therapeutic options available to every hepatic surgeon. (Surgery 2002;131:294-9.)

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