Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Gastroenterology. 2008 May;134(5):1342-51. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2008.02.013. Epub 2008 Feb 13.

Liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma: impact of the MELD allocation system and predictors of survival.

Author information

  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, Washington, USA.



Since February 27, 2002, patients with early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) have received priority for liver transplantation in the United States under the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) allocation system. We aimed to determine the impact of this system on liver transplantation for HCC.


Data were provided by the United Network for Organ Sharing on 19,404 first-time, cadaveric, adult liver transplantations performed in the United States between 2002 and 2007 and 15,906 performed between 1997 and 2002, an equal-duration period immediately preceding the MELD allocation system.


In 1997-2002, 4.6% of liver transplant recipients had HCC compared with 26% in 2002-2007, the majority of whom received "HCC-MELD-exceptions" allowing expedited transplantation. Posttransplantation survival of patients with HCC without an "HCC-MELD-exception" was significantly worse than the survival of patients without HCC. In 2002-2007, patients with an "HCC-MELD-exception" had similar survival to patients without HCC. However, for the subgroup of patients with tumors 3-5 cm in size had significantly worse survival. When compared with patients with similar MELD scores, patients in the "HCC-MELD-exception" group had worse posttransplantation survival than patients without HCC. The most important predictors of poor posttransplantation survival were MELD score >/=20 (hazard ratio, 1.61; 95% CI: 1.3-2.1) and serum alpha-fetoprotein level >/=455 ng/mL (hazard ratio, 2.15; 95% CI: 1.5-2.0).


The adoption of the MELD allocation system has led to a 6-fold increase in the proportion of transplantation patients with HCC. Patients with larger (3-5 cm) tumors, serum alpha-fetoprotein level >/=455 ng/mL, or a MELD score >/=20 have poor posttransplantation survival.

Comment in

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk