Lymph Node Staging in Perihilar Cholangiocarcinoma : The Key to the Big Picture

Klatskin tumors have a bad prognosis despite aggressive therapy. The role and extent of lymph node dissection during surgery is a matter of discussion. This retrospective study analyzes our current experience of surgical treatments in the last decade.

Patients and Methods: A retrospective single-center analysis of patients (n = 317) who underwent surgical treatment for Klatskin tumors. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression and Cox proportional analysis were performed. The primary endpoint was to investigate the role of lymph node metastasis for patient survival after complete tumor resection. The secondary endpoint was the prediction of lymph node status and long-term survival from preoperatively available parameters.

Results: In patients with negative resection margins, a negative lymph node status was the prognosis-determining factor with a 1-, 3-, and 5-year survival rate of 87.7%, 37%, and 26.4% compared with 69.5%, 13.9%, and 9.3% for lymph-node-positive patients, respectively. Multivariable logistic regression for complete resection and negative lymph node status demonstrated only Bismuth type 4 (p = 0.01) and tumor grading (p = 0.002) as independent predictors. In multivariate Cox regression analysis, independent predictors of survival after surgery were the preoperative bilirubin level (p = 0.03), intraoperative transfusion (p = 0.002), and tumor grading (G) (p = 0.001).

Conclusion: Lymph node dissection is of utmost importance for adequate staging in patients undergoing surgery for perihilar cholangiocarcinoma. In spite of extensive surgery, long-term survival is clearly associated with the aggressiveness of the disease.


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