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Original Article
June 1998

Treatment Strategy for Patients With Cystic Lesions Mimicking a Liver Tumor: A Recent 10-Year Surgical Experience in Japan

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Surgery II (Drs Shimada, Takenaka, Gion, Fujiwara, Shirabe, and Sugimachi) and Pathology II (Drs Taguchi and Kajiyama), Faculty of Medicine, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.

Arch Surg. 1998;133(6):643-646. doi:10.1001/archsurg.133.6.643

Objective  To clarify some of the difficulties in determining the appropriate surgical indications for cystic lesions mimicking a neoplasm in the liver.

Design  A retrospective review of hepatic resections for cystic lesions mimicking a neoplasm in the liver between August 1, 1986, and July 31, 1996.

Setting  A university hospital with a long history of hepatic resection for cystic lesions mimicking a neoplasm in the liver.

Patients  Ten patients with such cystic lesions in the liver, who underwent a hepatectomy during a recent 10-year period, were included in this study.

Main Outcome Measures  Detailed clinicopathologic data were analyzed, and comparisons were made between the preoperative and postoperative diagnoses.

Results  The postoperative diagnoses consisted of cysts, including cysts complicated by an infection or hemorrhage in 7 patients, localized cystic dilation of the bile duct due to hepatolithiasis in 1, cystadenoma in 1, and mucin-producing cholangiocarcinoma in 1. In only one case was postoperative diagnosis identical to the preoperative diagnosis. In one case, an intraoperative pathological examination showed the tumor to be a mucin-producing cholangiocarcinoma instead of a cystadenocarcinoma. A tumor-marker analysis of the fluid in the cystic lesions also did not contribute to a definite diagnosis. Furthermore, cytological examination of the fluid could not completely exclude malignancy. Neither mortality nor morbidity occurred in any of the patients, and their mean length of hospitalization after hepatectomy was only 13.7 days.

Conclusions  The accurate diagnosis of cystic lesions mimicking a tumor remains problematic; however, the results of hepatectomy for such cases are normally satisfactory. Such cystic lesions of the liver should be indicated for hepatectomy whenever the possibility of a cancerous neoplasm cannot be completely ruled out.