Aim: To investigate the indications for lymph node dissection (LND) in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma patients.
Methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted on 124 intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) patients who had undergone surgical resection of ICC from January 2006 to December 2007. Curative resection was attempted for all patients unless there were metastases to lymph nodes (LNs) beyond the hepatoduodenal ligament. Prophylactic LND was performed in patients in whom any enlarged LNs had been suspicious for metastases. The patients were classified according to the LND and LN metastases. Clinicopathologic, operative, and long-term survival data were collected retrospectively. The impact on survival of LND during primary resection was analyzed.
Results: Of 53 patients who had undergone hepatic resection with curative intent combined with regional LND, 11 had lymph nodes metastases. Whether or not patients without lymph node involvement had undergone LND made no significant difference to their survival (P = 0.822). Five patients with multiple tumors and involvement of lymph nodes underwent hepatic resection with LND; their survival curve did not differ significantly from that of the palliative resection group (P = 0.744). However, there were significant differences in survival between patients with lymph node involvement and a solitary tumor who underwent hepatic resection with LND and the palliative resection group (median survival time 12 mo vs 6.0 mo, P = 0.013).
Conclusion: ICC patients without lymph node involvement and patients with multiple tumors and lymph node metastases may not benefit from aggressive lymphadenectomy. Routine LND should be considered with discretion.
Keywords: Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma; Lymph node dissection; Lymph node metastases; Postoperative survival.