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Spontaneous tumour rupture and prognosis in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. BJS 2002; 89: 1125-1129.

Published: 29th November 2002

Authors: C.‐N. Yeh, W.‐C. Lee, L.‐B. Jeng, M.‐F. Chen, M.‐C. Yu


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common disease in Taiwan. Ruptured HCC is an uncommon and potentially fatal complication of the condition. Information on the impact of ruptured HCC on hepatic resection is, however, limited.


The clinical features of 60 patients with ruptured HCC who underwent hepatic resection from 1986 to 1998 were reviewed. Clinical features and factors influencing the outcome of 475 patients with non‐ruptured HCC were used for comparison.


Of 535 surgically resected HCCs, 60 (11·2 per cent) were ruptured. Univariate analysis showed that sudden onset of abdominal pain, physical signs of haemodynamic unstability, reduced haemoglobin level and a raised aspartate aminotransferase level were more frequently found in patients with ruptured HCC than in those with non‐ruptured tumours. Multivariate stepwise logistic regression analysis revealed sudden‐onset abdominal pain to be the only independently significant factor in patients in the ruptured HCC group. The 1‐, 3‐ and 5‐year survival rates of patients with non‐ruptured HCC were 72·1, 47·3 and 33·9 per cent, and those of patients with ruptured HCC were 54·2, 35·0 and 21·2 per cent respectively. Similar overall survival rates were found in patients with ruptured and non‐ruptured HCC, although patients in the non‐ruptured HCC group had a significantly better disease‐free survival rate (P = 0·023).


The presence of sudden‐onset abdominal pain is the only independent indicator of ruptured HCC. Hepatic resection, when feasible, is the treatment of choice and can result in an overall survival rate comparable to that of patients with non‐ruptured HCC. © 2002 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd

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