Center Experience Affects Liver Transplant Outcomes in Patients with Hilar Cholangiocarcinoma

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Annals of surgical oncology


BACKGROUND: Based on favorable outcomes reported by experienced centers, perihilar cholangiocarcinoma (Ph-CCA) has become an accepted indication for liver transplantation (LT). What is less clear is if the reported outcomes have been reproduced nationwide in the US.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to evaluate post-transplant outcomes in patients with Ph-CCA and to determine prognostic factors.

METHODS: Patients who underwent LT with Model for End-stage Liver Disease exception scores for Ph-CCA between 2010 and 2017 were evaluated. Transplant centers were classified into well- and less-experienced groups: Group 1 [well-experienced (≥ 6 LTs), 7 centers]; Group 2 [less-experienced (< 6 LTs), 23 centers]. Post-transplant mortality due to all-cause and recurrence of Ph-CCA were set as endpoints.

RESULTS: Post-transplant outcomes were significantly better in Group 1 than in Group 2, with 1-, 3-, and 5-year patient survival rates of 91.8%, 56.9%, and 45.8%, versus 65.6%, 48.8%, and 26.0%, respectively. Group 2 showed a significantly higher risk of 1-, 3-, and 5-year all-cause mortality and 1-year mortality associated with Ph-CCA recurrence. Center experience was an independent risk factor for post-transplant mortality. In intention-to-treat analysis, a positive prognostic effect of LT was significant and LT decreased the mortality risk by 86% in the well-experienced group [hazard ratio (HR) 0.14, p < 0.001], whereas this effect was not observed in the less-experienced group (HR 1.35, p = 0.47).

CONCLUSIONS: Risk of recurrence of malignancy and mortality was significantly higher in the less-experienced center group. Center effects on post-transplant outcomes in patients with Ph-CCA should be recognized, and the introduction of center approval for LT for Ph-CCA may be justified to achieve comparable outcomes between centers.

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ePub ahead of print