Background: The strategy of salvage transplantation for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma is based on the premise that tumour recurrence will be still transplantable at the time of recurrence. However, patients can not only present non-transplantable recurrence but can also be over the age limit accepted for transplantation.
Aims: To measure the risk of being too old for salvage transplantation of patients resected for hepatocellular carcinoma within Milan criteria.
Methods: A Markov simulation model was developed on the basis of published literature.
Results: The risk of being too old for salvage transplantation depends on the time-span between age at hepatic resection and age limit, and the expected median waiting-time. Patients resected at an age 2 or 3 years below the age limit carry a risk of being too old that overcomes the probability of receiving transplantation. Salvage strategy can cause harm that depends on the tumour characteristics and degree of portal hypertension, becoming maximal for patients with multiple tumours, clinical signs of portal hypertension and increased bilirubin levels.
Conclusions: The best strategy to adopt should be balanced between the risk of being too old and the expected transplant benefit, but salvage strategy could be pursued if it did not turn into significant harm in comparison to primary transplantation.
Copyright © 2012 Editrice Gastroenterologica Italiana S.r.l. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.