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J Pediatr Surg. 2007 Dec;42(12):2050-6.

Surgical resection of pulmonary metastatic lesions in children with hepatoblastoma.

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Division of Pediatric Surgery, Primary Children's Medical Center, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84113, USA.



Although the most common site of metastasis for hepatoblastoma is the lung, the role of thoracotomy and surgical resection of pulmonary metastasis remains uncertain. In this study, we aimed to determine the long-term outcome of patients with hepatoblastoma who have a surgical resection of pulmonary metastatic lesions.


Patients with hepatoblastoma in the Children's Oncology Group INT-0098 were reviewed. Detailed reports enabling comprehensive review were available for 175 of 181 eligible patients. Prognostic factors (histology, tumor margin, surgical complications, alpha-fetoprotein) were also reviewed.


Thoracotomy for initial pulmonary metastasis: 38 patients presented with pulmonary metastasis, Children's Oncology Group stage IV. Nine of these 38 underwent thoracotomy and pulmonary metastectomy either before (2), simultaneous (5), or after (2) resection of their primary liver tumor. Eight of these 9 patients with metastectomy were long-term survivors. Thoracotomy for tumor relapse: 20 patients who had previously achieved complete tumor clearance experienced subsequent pulmonary relapse of their tumor (11 stage I or III, 9 stage IV). All 20 patients with pulmonary relapse had salvage chemotherapy; 13 also had thoracotomy and pulmonary metastectomy (8) or thoracotomy and biopsy (5). Only 4 of 13 were long-term survivors: 2 were stage I and 2 were stage IV.


As pediatric surgeons, we varied tremendously in our timing and surgical approach to the management of pulmonary metastasis in hepatoblastoma. This large multicenter review suggests that thoracotomy should be used cautiously in the management of pulmonary relapse and perhaps more aggressively in the management of metastases present at diagnosis that persist after neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

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