Objectives: To study the frequency of tumor seeding after percutaneous biopsy of hepatocellular carcinoma and to evaluate the impact on long-term survival.
Methods: Records of 150 patients with cirrhosis who underwent ultrasound-guided aspiration biopsy for hepatocellular carcinoma between 1989 and 1996 were reviewed in June 1998. Liver transplantation was performed in 7 patients. One to three needle passes were performed with 18 to 20 gauge needles. Follow-up included regular clinical examinations and ultrasonography or computerized tomography.
Results: Four cases (2.66%) of subcutaneous metastasis were noted at the needle insertion site; none in transplanted patients. All patients had viral cirrhosis, Okuda class I. Nodules were detected 4, 12, 22 and 24 months after biopsy. The second patient is alive 24 months after tumor seeding. For other patients, survival time was 4, 24 and 60 months respectively, without local tumor extension after surgical resection or radiotherapy. During a mean 11.8 months of follow-up, 127 patients died without tumor seeding. Eleven patients are still being followed and have no signs of needle tract implantation of hepatocellular carcinoma (mean follow-up 34.7 months).
Conclusion: The prevalence of tumoral seeding after percutaneous biopsy of hepatocellular carcinoma was 2.66%, which is higher than in previous studies. After liver transplantation, no evidence of needle tract seeding was identified. Survival did not seem to be influenced by local evolution.