Metastatic endocrine tumors: is there a place for liver transplantation?

Liver Transpl Surg. 1995 Mar;1(2):111-7. doi: 10.1002/lt.500010208.


The authors describe their experience with liver transplantation (OLT) for metastatic endocrine tumors (MET) in order to determine reasonable indications for OLT in patients with this disease. Removal of the primary lesion and subsequent liver transplantation were performed in two separate procedures in all patients except one. Only those patients suffering from objective tumor progression and symptoms with no evidence of extrahepatic spread after complete work-up (including endoscopic ultrasonography (US) and 123I-labeled Tyr3-octreotide body scanning) underwent liver transplantation. Fifteen patients were referred for liver transplantation. Seven patients were excluded either because of stability of liver metastases (n = 3), extrahepatic spread, general contraindication (n = 2), or feasibility of aggressive surgical resection (n = 2). Liver transplantation was undertaken in eight patients with carcinoid tumor (n = 4), gastrinoma (n = 3) and glucagonoma (n = 1). Three patients did not survive the surgical procedure itself, whereas two additional patients died from chronic rejection or from recurrent disease. Three patients who received transplants for metastatic carcinoid tumor are alive without biochemical or imaging evidence of disease recurrence at 6, 15, and 52 months. The best indication for transplantation seems to be patients with metastases restricted to the liver and unresponsive to adjuvant therapy after aggressive surgical resection including excision of the primary lesion and reduction of hepatic metastases. In such highly-selected patients, liver transplantation remains a high-risk operation, but it can yield long-term survival.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinoid Tumor / mortality
  • Carcinoid Tumor / pathology
  • Carcinoid Tumor / surgery*
  • Female
  • Gastrinoma / mortality
  • Gastrinoma / pathology
  • Gastrinoma / surgery*
  • Glucagonoma / mortality
  • Glucagonoma / pathology
  • Glucagonoma / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Liver Transplantation* / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome