Prospective Evaluation of Intrahepatic Microscopic Occult Tumor Foci in Patients with Numerous Colorectal Liver Metastases

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Background: Patients with numerous colorectal liver metastases (CLM) have high risk of early recurrence after liver resection (LR). The presence of intrahepatic occult microscopic metastases missed by imaging has been hypothesized, but it has never been assessed by pathology analyses. Methods: All patients with > 10 CLM who underwent LR between September 2015 and September 2016 were considered. A large sample of liver without evidence of disease (“healthy liver”) was taken from the resected specimen and sent to the pathologist. One mm-thick sections were analyzed. Any metastasis, undetected by preoperative and intraoperative imaging, but identified by the pathologist was classified as occult microscopic metastasis. Results: Ten patients were prospectively enrolled (median number of CLM n = 15). In a per-lesion analysis, the sensitivity of computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging was 91 and 98% respectively. The pathology examination confirmed all the CLM. All patients had an adequate sample of “healthy liver” (median number of examined blocks per sample n = 14 [5–33]). No occult microscopic metastases were detected. After a median follow-up of 15 months, 5 patients were disease-free. Recurrence was hepatic and bilobar in all patients. Conclusions: Clinically relevant occult microscopic disease in patients with numerous CLM is excluded. These results support the indication to resection in such patients and exclude the need for de principe major hepatectomy to increase the completeness of surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalDigestive Surgery
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jun 7 2018


  • Colorectal liver metastases
  • Micrometastases
  • Parenchyma-sparing surgery
  • Preoperative chemotherapy
  • Survival and recurrence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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