National trends in surgical procedures for hepatocellular carcinoma: 1998-2008


  • Presented in part at the 9th Annual Meeting of the American Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association, March 13, 2009, Miami, FL.



The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is rising, and the options for surgical therapy of HCC have evolved recently, but use of surgical therapy has not been characterized on a representative, nationwide basis. We quantified trends in use, mortality, and patient and hospital characteristics for 3 surgical therapies for HCC (resection, ablation, and transplantation) in the United States from 1998 to 2008.


Hospital discharge data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample were used to quantify procedure-related data for each year. Trends over time were summarized as the average annual percent change (AAPC) and corresponding 95% confidence interval (CI).


The number of surgical procedures for HCC increased from 1416 to 6769 (AAPC, 13.5%; 95% CI, 10.2%-16.8%). Volumes increased for all surgical procedures, most notably for ablation (AAPC, 17.3%; 95% CI, 6.6%-29.2%) and transplantation (AAPC, 20.9%; 95% CI, 14.1%-28.1%). When analyzed as a proportion of total procedures, there were declines in the relative use of major hepatectomy (35% to 16%; AAPC, −7.2%, 95% CI, −8.8% to −5.6%) and wedge resection (37% to 22%; AAPC, −4.8%; 95% CI, −6.2% to −3.4%), while the proportion accounted for by transplantation increased (16% to 35%; AAPC, 4.4%; 95% CI, 0.2%-8.9%). Inpatient mortality decreased for each procedure individually and overall from 7.3% to 4.6% (AAPC, −7.7%; 95% CI, −10.8% to −4.5%), despite increasing age and comorbidity burden.


The use of surgical therapy for HCC has increased dramatically over the last decade, with a relative shift away from liver resection and toward liver transplantation. These therapeutic modalities must be better targeted to make the most appropriate use of limited health care resources. Cancer 2012;. © 2011 American Cancer Society.