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26.12.2017 | Review Article

Outcomes of surgery for hepatocellular carcinoma with tumor thrombus in the inferior vena cava or right atrium

Surgery Today
Kazuhiko Sakamoto, Hiroaki Nagano


The prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients with tumor thrombus (TT) in the inferior vena cava (IVC) or right atrium (RA) is extremely poor. We reviewed the recent surgical treatments and outcomes of this form of advanced HCC. TT is classified into three types according to its anatomic location relative to the heart: the inferior hepatic type (type I), where the TT is in the IVC below the diaphragm; the superior hepatic type (type II), where the TT is in the IVC above the diaphragm, but still outside the RA; and the intracardiac type (type III), where the TT is above the diaphragm and has entered the RA. Type I can be treated relatively easily by standard radical hepatectomy. For type II, the intrathoracic IVC is approached via the abdominal cavity and an incision in the diaphragm with total hepatic vascular exclusion (THVE). For type III, hepatectomy plus thrombectomy is generally performed under cardiopulmonary bypass. If the TT is only just inside the RA, THVE can be performed by mobilizing the liver caudally. The median overall survival of HCC patients with TT in the IVC or RA, who undergo curative resection, is 19.0–30.8 months. As postoperative recurrence is likely to develop, even after curative surgery, effective postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy is required.

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