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The Role of Lymphadenectomy for Liver Tumors: Further Considerations on the Appropriateness of Treatment Strategy

Ercolani, Giorgio MD*; Grazi, Gian Luca MD*; Ravaioli, Matteo MD*; Grigioni, Walter Franco MD; Cescon, Matteo MD*; Gardini, Andrea MD*; Del Gaudio, Massimo MD*; Cavallari, Antonino MD*

doi: 10.1097/01.sla.0000109154.00020.e0
Original Articles

Objective: To evaluate the role of regional lymphadenectomy in patients with liver tumors.

Background: Lymph node status is 1 of the most important prognostic factors in oncologic surgery; however, the role of lymph node dissection remains unclear for hepatic tumors.

Methods: A total of 120 consecutive patients undergoing liver resections for primary and secondary hepatic tumors were prospectively enrolled in the study. “Regional” lymphadenectomy was carried out routinely after specimen removal. Incidence, site, and influence on survival of node metastases were analyzed.

Results: Only 1 postoperative complication (intra-abdominal bleeding) was related to lymph node excision. Median number of dissected nodes was 6.8 ± 3.6. Periportal, pericholedochal, and common hepatic artery stations were always removed. Lymph node metastases were found in 17 (16.5%) patients. The percentage rises to 20.3% when considering only noncirrhotic patients. The incidence of lymph node metastases was 7.5% for hepatocellular carcinoma, 14% for colorectal metastases, 40% for noncolorectal metastases, and 40% for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (P < 0.002). Median survival time was 486 ± 93.2 days among all patients with node metastases and 725 ± 29.7 among patients without node metastases. The 2-year survival was 37.1% and 86.7%, in the 2 groups (P < 0.05). The 2-year recurrence rate was 77.6% and 45.3%, respectively (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Regional lymphadenectomy is a safe procedure after liver resection, and it should be routinely applied in patients with primary and secondary hepatic tumors, particularly in those without chronic disease. A careful evaluation of node status is nevertheless advisable also in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma on cirrhosis.

Regional lymphadenectomy was carried out prospectively in 120 patients undergoing liver resection for different primary and secondary hepatic tumors. Incidence of lymph node metastases was 20.3% in noncirrhotic patients. The 2-year survival and recurrence rates were significantly affected by the presence of lymph node metastases.

From the *Departments of Surgery and Transplantation and †Pathology, Sant'Orsola Hospital, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Reprints: Gian Luca Grazi, MD, Department of Surgery and Transplantation, University of Bologna, Sant'Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, Via Massarenti, 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.