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J Am Coll Surg. 1995 Feb;180(2):213-9.

Frequency, technical aspects, results, and indications of major hepatectomy after prolonged intra-arterial hepatic chemotherapy for initially unresectable hepatic tumors.

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Department of Digestive and Hepatobiliary Oncologic Surgery, Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France.



Major hepatectomy after prolonged intra-arterial hepatic chemotherapy (IAHC) is extremely rare, because IAHC usually fails to reduce the tumor volume sufficiently or obtain a long duration of response, or both, and because it impairs hepatic function. The present report was done to study the frequency, feasibility, and results of hepatectomy following IAHC.


This retrospective study consisted of 14 patients treated with at least six courses of IAHC (mean of 17.6, median of 13, range of six to 48 courses) for hepatic tumors: colorectal metastases (n = 9), apudoma metastases (n = 4), and hepatoblastoma (n = 1). Systemic chemotherapy was associated in eight cases during (n = 5) or after (n = 3) IAHC. Initially, multiple hepatic tumors were unresectable in ten cases. They eventually became resectable, but were associated with extensive extrahepatic sites of involvement in four cases. All patients underwent curative major hepatectomy after a careful and specific morphologic and functional hepatic assessment. Right portal vein embolization was performed preoperatively upon three patients, resulting in 38, 44, and 77 percent hypertrophy of the left lobe before hepatectomy. Hepatectomy was also performed upon three patients with hepatic arterial thrombosis induced by IAHC, after a careful workup of the neoarteriovascularization of the liver.


These 14 cases only represented 5.8 percent of the 239 patients in whom a catheter was inserted for IAHC, and 4.2 percent of the 335 patients who had hepatectomy for carcinoma. Postoperatively, there was no mortality and no clinical hepatic insufficiency. However, ten complications occurred in eight patients (three of them resulted in reoperation). Histologic examination revealed substantial modifications of the hepatic parenchyma because of IAHC. Results concerning survival were very encouraging: five of the nine patients with metastases of the colon and rectum are free of disease, with a mean follow-up period of 36 months after the beginning of IAHC.


The decision to perform a major hepatectomy after prolonged IAHC is difficult and must be based on an output morphologic assessment with computed tomographic portography and a careful evaluation of functional liver impairment because of IAHC (the therapeutic strategy proposed by Makuuchi for hepatectomy in patients with cirrhosis, based on indocyanine green clearance and volume to resect, is very useful for this purpose). Hepatectomy is technically difficult to perform following IAHC because of a flabby parenchyma and unusually high pressure in the small central hepatic veins. This drawback is circumvented by using techniques, such as preoperative hypertrophy of the future remaining liver, a transparenchymatous approach of vasculobiliary structures, and intermittent clamping of the hepatic pedicle or vascular isolation of the liver. Postoperative complications occurred more frequently than after major hepatectomy in other clinical settings (p < 0.05). However, as this therapeutic approach greatly increases survival, it should not be neglected by clinicians, although indications for its use are very rare.

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