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03 August 2018 : Review article  

Salvage Liver Transplant versus Primary Liver Transplant for Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Dipesh Kumar Yadav1ABCDEF, Wei Chen1BCDF, Xueli Bai2ABCDFG, Alina Singh3BEF, Guogang Li1BCDF, Tao Ma1BCDF, Xiazhen Yu1BCF, Zhi Xiao1CD, Bingfeng Huang1BCF, Tingbo Liang2ADG*

DOI: 10.12659/AOT.908623

Ann Transplant 2018; 23:524-545


The strategy of salvage liver transplantation (SLT) originated for initially resectable and transplantable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) to preclude upfront transplantation, with SLT in the case of recurrence. However, SLT remains a controversial approach in comparison to primary liver transplant (PLT). The aim of our study was to conduct a systemic review and meta-analysis to assess the short-term outcomes, overall survival (OS), and disease-free survival (DFS) between SLT and PLT for patients with HCC, stratifying results according to the Milan criteria and donor types. A search of PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library was conducted to identify studies comparing SLT and PLT. A fixed effects model and a random effects model meta-analysis were conducted to assess the short-term outcomes, OS, and DFS based on the evaluation of heterogeneity. SLT had superior 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year OS and DFS compared with that of PLT. After classifying data according to donor type and Milan criteria, our meta-analysis revealed: that for deceased-donor liver transplantation (DDLT) recipients, there were no significant differences in 1-year and 3-year OS rate between the SLT group and the PLT group. However, the 5-year OS rate was superior in the SLT group compared to the PLT group. Similarly, SLT had superior 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year OS rate compared to PLT in living-donor liver transplantation (LDLT) recipients. Moreover, 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year DFS were also superior in SLT compared to PLT in both the DDLT and LDLT recipients. In patients within Milan criteria there were no statistically significant differences in 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year OS and DFS between the SLT group and the PLT group. Similarly, in patients beyond Milan criteria, both SLT and PLT showed no significant difference for 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year OS rate. Our meta-analysis included the largest number of studies comparing SLT and PLT, and SLT was found to have significantly better OS and DFS. Moreover, this meta-analysis suggests that SLT has comparable postoperative complications to that of PLT, and thus, SLT may be a better treatment strategy for recurrent HCC patients and patients with compensated liver, whenever feasible, considering the severe organ limitation and the safety of SLT. However, PLT can be referred as a treatment strategy for HCC patients with cirrhotic and decompensated liver.

Keywords: Hepatectomy, Liver Transplantation

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Annals of Transplantation eISSN: 2329-0358
Annals of Transplantation eISSN: 2329-0358