Is It Just a Matter of Surgical Extension to Achieve the Cure of Hepatocarcinoma? A Meta-Analysis of Propensity-Matched and Randomized Studies for Anatomic Versus Parenchyma-Sparing Liver Resection



The benefit of anatomic (AR) versus parenchyma-sparing resection (PSR) in hepatocarcinoma (HCC) is still debated. The aim of the study was to compare AR vs. PSR in terms of overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS).


A systematic review was conducted using Medline and Google Scholar. To reduce intra- and inter-study heterogeneity, only propensity-matched studies and randomized clinical trials (RCT) were evaluated and a generic inverse variance meta-analysis was run. A sub-analysis was performed in case of tumor microvascular invasion (MVI).


Eleven propensity-matched and one RCT were evaluated, with a total of 3445 patients (AR = 1776 and PSR = 1669). Tumor burden and liver function were comparable among studies (I2 < 50%, p > 0.5). OS was similar between AR and PSR (HR 0.93; 95%CI, 0.75–1.15; p = 0.50, I2 = 41%). DFS was improved in AR at 1 year (RR 0.84; 95%CI, 0.72–0.97; p = 0.02; I2 = 36%) and 3 years (RR 0.90; 95%CI, 0.83–0.98; p = 0.02; I2 = 40%) but not at 5 years (RR 0.94; 95%CI, 0.87–1.01; p = 0.07; I2 = 41%). Furthermore, in the presence of MVI, no difference in OS and DFS was observed between AR and PSR.


When liver function and tumor burden are comparable, AR and PSR achieved similar overall survival. AR improved local control in the early period after surgery. Furthermore, in the presence of MVI, the extension of surgery was not associated with better OS and DFS.

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The authors are grateful to Davide Paolo Bernasconi, PhD (Center of Biostatistics for Clinical Epidemiology, School of Medicine and Surgery, University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy), for his contribution to the statistical analysis.

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Each author has contributed the same to the manuscript. In particular, each physician has met all the following: substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; final approval of the version to be published; and agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

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Correspondence to Luca Gianotti.

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Famularo, S., Ceresoli, M., Giani, A. et al. Is It Just a Matter of Surgical Extension to Achieve the Cure of Hepatocarcinoma? A Meta-Analysis of Propensity-Matched and Randomized Studies for Anatomic Versus Parenchyma-Sparing Liver Resection. J Gastrointest Surg 25, 94–103 (2021).

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  • Hepatocarcinoma
  • Anatomic resection
  • Parenchyma sparing resection
  • Survival
  • Meta-analysis
  • Non-anatomic resection
  • HCC