BACKGROUND: Long-term survival rates after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) of any size and number may now be predicted using the Metroticket calculator. The aim of this study was to evaluate the minimum post-OLT survival threshold that would justify the selection of a patient with HCC for OLT.
METHODS: We used a Markov model, recently developed at the University of Michigan, which assumes that a patient with HCC should undergo OLT if his or her transplant benefit is greater than the cumulative harm to the rest of the waiting list (WL). In the base case, we considered a patient with a low survival perspective without OLT (5-year survival rate, 10%). The data sources to construct and validate the model were as follows: the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network report, and our prospective database.
RESULTS: Our center was generally characterized by lower WL mortalities, although there were lower transplant probabilities for both HCC and non-HCC patients than the average US center. The proportion of HCC patients on the WL was higher in Padua (25%) than in the United States (10%). The calculated harm to the WL was 434 quality-adjusted days of life in Padua, and 957 in the United States (P < .01). The OLT benefit outweighed the harm to the WL when the 5-year post-OLT survival rate was higher than 30% in Padua, and 61% in the United States.
CONCLUSIONS: In a decision model including the concepts of transplantation benefit and harm to the WL, the minimum 5-year post-OLT survival threshold justifying the selection of a patient with HCC for OLT in Padua was 30%.