Isolated limb perfusion in Merkel cell carcinoma offers high rate of complete response and durable local-regional control: Systematic review and institutional experience

J Surg Oncol. 2016 Aug;114(2):187-92. doi: 10.1002/jso.24289. Epub 2016 May 18.


Introduction: Hyperthermic isolated limb perfusion (HILP) has an established role in the management of melanoma, but its role for Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is less well defined.

Methods: Retrospective review of our institutional experience with HILP for MCC was conducted (2009-2015). Literature search was performed through 04/2015 and 10 studies met inclusion criteria.

Results: Four patients underwent HILP for MCC at our institution. There were no major complications and complete response was achieved in all patients. Early metastatic recurrence developed in two patients. The remaining two had no evidence of disease at last follow-up (36 months) or death (39 months). Systematic review identified an additional 12 pts that underwent HILP for MCC, for a total of 16 cases. Median age was 73 [IQR 69-78] years and 56% were men. Of the patients with reported follow-up, 12 (86%) had complete response, 1 had stable disease, and 1 partial response. Four patients developed local-regional recurrence and six distant metastases, all within 6 months. Overall median follow-up time was 15 [7-36] months.

Conclusion: Among a highly selective group of patients, regional perfusion for MCC is safe and has a high complete response rate. HILP is an acceptable therapeutic modality for obtaining durable loco-regional control but early distant metastatic disease remains a significant cause of mortality. J. Surg. Oncol. 2016;114:187-192. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: HILP; Merkel cell; in-transit; isolated limb perfusion; regional therapy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Merkel Cell / drug therapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Cancer, Regional Perfusion*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Extremities / blood supply
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melphalan / administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy*


  • Melphalan