Factors associated with contralateral liver hypertrophy after unilateral radioembolization for hepatocellular carcinoma
Radioembolization for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) induces liver volume changes referred to as “atrophy-hypertrophy complex”. The aim of this study was to investigate lobar liver volume changes after unilateral radioembolization and to search for factors associated with hypertrophy of the untreated lobe.
Materials and methods
Seventy-five patients were retrospectively evaluated. Inclusion criteria were: (1) right-lobar radioembolization for unresectable unilateral HCC, (2) available liver computed tomography scans before, 1, 3, and at least 6 months after radioembolization. Baseline patient characteristics included clinical features, laboratory results, spleen volume, and liver computed tomography. Absolute and relative (referred to the whole liver volume) liver lobe volumes (LLV) as well as relative LLV (rLLV) change per month were evaluated and compared.
Absolute and relative contralateral LLV continuously increased after radioembolization (p<0.001). Mean relative contralateral LLV increased from 36±11.6% before radioembolization to 50±15.3% 6 months after radioembolization. Median contralateral rLLV increase/month (within first 6 months) was 2.5%. Contralateral rLLV increase/month was significantly lower in patients with ascites (p = 0.017) or platelet count <100/nl (p = 0.009). An inverse correlation of contralateral rLVV increase/month with spleen volume (p = 0.017), patient age (p = 0.024), Child Pugh score (p = 0.001), and tumor burden (p = 0.001) was found.
Significant contralateral hypertrophy and ipsilateral atrophy were common after unilateral radioembolization. Small spleen volume, low patient age, low Child Pugh score, absence of ascites, platelet count ≥100/nl, and low tumor burden were associated with increased contralateral hypertrophy, indicating that younger patients with compensated cirrhosis might benefit most from radioembolization in a “bridge-to-resection” setting.