Objective: To assess the effects of preoperative systemic chemotherapy on remnant liver parenchyma, liver function, and morbidity after major liver resection for colorectal liver metastases.
Background: Many patients operated upon for colorectal cancer liver metastases receive previous chemotherapy. Whether systemic chemotherapy alters liver parenchyma in such way that it increases the risks of liver resection remains unclear.
Patients and Methods: Among 214 patients who received a liver resection for colorectal liver metastases between 1998 and 2002 in a single institution, 67 who underwent a major liver resection under total hepatic vascular exclusion form the basis of this report. Forty-five patients operated upon after systemic chemotherapy were compared with 22 who did not receive any chemotherapy in the 6 months prior to resection. Postoperative mortality, morbidity, liver function tests, and pathology of the resected liver in the two groups were compared.
Results: There was no postoperative mortality. Values of liver function tests on days 1, 3, 5, and 10 were similar in both groups. Morbidity rate was higher in the chemotherapy group (38% versus 13.5%, P = 0.03). Postoperative morbidity was correlated with the number of cycles of chemotherapy administered before surgery but not to the type of chemotherapy. Preoperative chemotherapy was significantly associated with sinusoidal dilatation, atrophy of hepatocytes, and/or hepatocytic necrosis (49% versus 25%, P = 0.005).
Conclusion: Prolonged neoadjuvant systemic chemotherapy alters liver parenchyma and increases morbidity after major resection under total hepatic vascular exclusion, but it does not increase operative mortality. This should be taken into consideration before deciding a major liver resection in patients who have received preoperative chemotherapy.