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A Journal on Surgery

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Minerva Chirurgica 2002 June;57(3):347-56

language: English, Italian

Management of spontaneous bleeding due to hepatocellular carcinoma

Recordare A., Bonariol L., Caratozzolo E., Callegari F., Bruno G., Di Paola F., Bassi N.


Background. Spontaneous rupture is a life-threatening complication of HCC, occurring in 4.8-26% of cases. Liver failure is the main cause of death. Debates still remain on the most appropriate treatment in such patients because of the high operative mortality of emergency surgery and the high risk of rebleeding and less satisfying mid- and long-term results of nonoperative procedures like angiographic embolization. Early and long-term results of a surgically oriented treatment, based on prompt evaluation of the functional liver reserve and tumor resectability was retrospectively review-ed.
Methods. From January 1994 to December 2000, 11 patients (7 males and 4 female, mean age 66.2 (11.86 years) were treated for ruptured HCC, in 10 cases involving a cirrhotic liver. Seven patients underwent emergency surgery and 4 patients transcutaneous arterial embolization (TAE). Liver resection was performed in patients with preserved liver function, after ultrasonography and/or CT scan demonstrated hemoperitoneum and a single resectable liver tumour (5 cases). In one patient with cirrhosis, ultrasonography showed only hemoperitoneum. A bleeding nodule was discovered intraoperatively and resected in a liver with a multinodular HCC. Another patient under-went emergency resection after referral at our Unit with a surgical packing. In 4 cases with poor liver function and/or unresectable tumour TAE of the neoplasm was performed, in one case after surgical packing. Mortality, morbidity and patients survival after treatment were analyzed. All patients had at least 1 year follow-up.
Results. All patients underwent minor resection; 2 left lobectomies, 1 segmentectomy (VII), 1 bisegmentectomy (VII-VIII), and 3 wedge resections. Postoperative course was complicated by ascites in 5 cases and subphrenic abscess in one case. Four patients died 3, 4, 6 and 62 months after surgery; 3 patients are actually alive 22, 25, and 89 months after surgery. Four patients were submitted to TAE: all patients died within 6 months.
Conclusions. When ruptured HCC is suspected, preserved liver function (Child A-B7) and a resectable hepatic tumour are considered clear indications to surgery. Emergency liver resection achieved good early and long-term results. In cases of advanced liver disease or multinodular HCC a non-operative approach, like TAE, must be attempted. Surgical direct hemostasis or hepatic artery ligation must be reserved for patients with uncontrollable o recurrent bleeding after TAE.

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