Living vs. deceased donor liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma: a systematic review and meta-analysis


  • Conflict of interest: None.

Corresponding author: Ian D. McGilvray, MD, FRCSC, Surgery, Toronto General Hospital, 585 University Avenue, 11C1250 NCSB, Toronto, ON M5G 2N2, Canada.

Tel.: 416 340 5230; fax: 416 340 5242;



Experimental studies suggest that the regenerating liver provides a “fertile field” for the growth of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, clinical studies report conflicting results comparing living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) and deceased donor liver transplantation (DDLT) for HCC. Thus, disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) were compared after LDLT and DDLT for HCC in a systematic review and meta-analysis. Twelve studies satisfied eligibility criteria for DFS, including 633 LDLT and 1232 DDLT. Twelve studies satisfied eligibility criteria for OS, including 637 LDLT and 1050 DDLT. Altogether, there were 16 unique studies; 1, 2, and 13 of these were rated as high, medium, and low quality, respectively. Studies were heterogeneous, non-randomized, and mostly retrospective. The combined hazard ratio was 1.59 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.02–2.49; I2 = 50.07%) for DFS after LDLT vs. DDLT for HCC, and 0.97 (95% CI: 0.73–1.27; I= 5.68%) for OS. This analysis provides evidence of lower DFS after LDLT compared with DDLT for HCC. Improved study design and reporting is required in future research to ascribe the observed difference in DFS to study bias or biological risk specifically associated with LDLT.