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PLoS One. 2014 Aug 5;9(8):e104348. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0104348. eCollection 2014.

Timing of hepatectomy for resectable synchronous colorectal liver metastases: for whom simultaneous resection is more suitable--a meta-analysis.

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  • 1Department of General Surgery, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.
  • 2Department of Biostatistics, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.



The optimal timing of resection for synchronous colorectal liver metastases is still controversial. Retrospective cohort studies always had baseline imbalances in comparing simultaneous resection with staged strategy. Significantly more patients with mild conditions received simultaneous resections. Previous published meta-analyses based on these studies did not correct these biases, resulting in low reliability. Our meta-analysis was conducted to compensate for this deficiency and find candidates for each surgical strategy.


A systemic search for major databases and relevant journals from January 2000 to April 2013 was performed. The primary outcomes were postoperative mortality, morbidity, overall survival and disease-free survival. Other outcomes such as number of patients need blood transfusion and length of hospital stay were also assessed. Baseline analyses were conducted to find and correct potential confounding factors.


22 studies with a total of 4494 patients were finally included. After correction of baseline imbalance, simultaneous and staged resections were similar in postoperative mortality (RR = 1.14, P = 0.52), morbidity (RR = 1.02, P = 0.85), overall survival (HR = 0.96, P = 0.50) and disease-free survival (HR = 0.97, P = 0.87). Only in pulmonary complications, simultaneous resection took a significant advantage (RR = 0.23, P = 0.003). The number of liver metastases was the major factor interfering with selecting surgical strategies. With >3 metastases, simultaneous and staged strategies were almost the same in morbidity (49.4% vs. 50.9%). With ≤3 metastases, staged resection caused lower morbidity (13.8% vs. 17.2%), not statistically significant.


The number of liver metastases was the major confounding factor for postoperative morbidity, especially in staged resections. Without baseline imbalances, simultaneous took no statistical significant advantage in safety and efficacy. Considering the inherent limitations of this meta-analysis, the results should be interpret and applied prudently.

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