Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA) is a contraindication to liver transplantation in most centers worldwide. Therefore, only a few such cases have been performed in each individual center, and the need for a systematic review and meta-analysis to cumulatively pool these results is apparent.
A systematic literature review was conducted using the MEDLINE and Cochrane Library databases according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses statement (end-of-search date: May 29, 2020). Meta-analyses of proportions were conducted to pool the overall survival (OS), recurrence-free survival (RFS), and overall recurrence rates using the random-effects model. Meta-regression was used to examine cirrhosis and incidental diagnosis as confounders on OS and RFS.
Eighteen studies comprising 355 patients and a registry study of 385 patients were included. The pooled 1-, 3-, and 5-y OS rates were 75% (95% CI, 64%-84%), 56% (95% CI, 46%-67%), and 42% (95% CI, 29%-55%), respectively. The pooled 1-, 3-, and 5-y RFS rates were 70% (95% CI, 63%-75%), 49% (95% CI, 41%-57%), and 38% (95% CI, 27%-50%), respectively. Cirrhosis was positively associated with RFS, while incidental diagnosis was not. Neither cirrhosis nor incidental diagnosis was associated with OS. The pooled overall recurrence rate was 43% (95% CI, 33%-53%) over a mean follow-up of 40.6 ± 37.7 mo. Patients with very early (single ≤2 cm) iCCA exhibited superior pooled 5-y RFS (67%; 95% CI, 47%-86%) versus advanced iCCA (34%; 95% CI, 23%-46%).
Cirrhotics with very early iCCA or carefully selected patients with advanced iCCA after neoadjuvant therapy may benefit from liver transplantation under research protocols.