Background: Routine and radical lymph node dissection is a clinical concern for improving the surgical outcome in patients with intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC). The therapeutic value of the procedure during hepatectomy has, however, not been evaluated. Methods: Between January 1990 and December 2004, 104 patients with ICC undergoing macroscopic curative resections were investigated retrospectively with special reference to lymph node status. The role of lymph node dissection was evaluated according to macroscopic type: mass-forming (MF) type (n = 68) and MF plus periductal infiltration (PI) type (n = 36) of ICC. Results: Lymph node involvement and intrahepatic metastases were an independent, unfavorable prognostic factor in the MF type of ICC. Negative lymph node involvement provided a favorable survival rate in the 41 patients without intrahepatic metastases (P < .0001). Among the 29 patients without lymph node involvement and intrahepatic metastases, there was no difference according to the use of lymph node dissection (P = .8071). Also, no difference was seen with lymph node involvement in the 24 patients with the MF plus PI type of ICC who had no intrahepatic metastases (P = .6620). Conclusion: For purpose of diagnostic staging and exclusion of positive regional lymph nodes, lymph node dissections might be useful in patients with the MF type and the MF plus PI type of ICC; however, routine use of lymph node dissection in patients with the MF type of ICC is not recommended, because no difference in survival was observed in the patients with negative lymph node metastases, irrespective of the use of lymph node dissection.
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