Liver transplantation versus liver resection in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma: a meta-analysis of observational studies.

Journal Article


A number of cohort studies have compared the outcomes of liver transplantation (LT) and liver resection (LR) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. However, the effects of LT versus LR remain unclear. We searched electronic databases and reference lists for relevant articles published before February 2013.


The primary endpoints were pooled using random-effects models to model potential heterogeneity, including overall survival (OS), disease-free survival, and recurrence rate.


We found similar 1-year OS (odds ratio [OR], 1.08; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.81-1.43; P=0.61) yet significantly better 3-year OS (OR, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.18-1.84; P<0.001) and 5-year OS (OR, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.45-2.16; P<0.001) after LT compared with LR with relative risk differences of 9% (P<0.001) and 14% (P<0.001), respectively. The 1-, 3-, and 5-year difference-free survival were 13%, 29%, and 39% higher (P<0.001 in all) in LT recipients than LR patients. Additionally, recurrence rate was 30% less (P<0.001) in LT than LR. Furthermore, better 5-year difference-free survival (P<0.001) and recurrence rates (P<0.05) were yielded after LT when patients from the entire HCC population were included.


When including all the 62 previous studies comparing LT and resection, LT provides increased survival and lower recurrence rates than LR for HCC patients. These results of disease-free survival and recurrence rate are similar among early HCC patients with Child-Turcotte-Pugh class A cirrhosis. However, summary ORs and risk differences cannot be interpreted as causal effects of LT versus LR.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Zheng, Z; Liang, W; Milgrom, DP; Zheng, Z; Schroder, PM; Kong, NS; Yang, C; Guo, Z; He, X

Published Date

  • January 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 97 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 227 - 234

PubMed ID

  • 24142034

Pubmed Central ID

  • 24142034

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1534-6080

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0041-1337

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/tp.0b013e3182a89383


  • eng