BACKGROUND - The impact of re-resection of a positive intraoperative bile duct margin on clinical outcomes for resectable hilar cholangiocarcinoma (HCCA) remains controversial. We sought to define the impact of re-resection of an initially positive frozen-section bile duct margin on outcomes of patients undergoing surgery for HCCA.
METHODS - Patients who underwent curative-intent resection for HCCA between 2000 and 2014 were identified at 10 hepatobiliary centers. Short- and long-term outcomes were analyzed among patients stratified by margin status.
RESULTS - Among 215 (83.7%) patients who underwent frozen-section evaluation of the bile duct, 80 (37.2%) patients had a positive (R1) ductal margin, 58 (72.5%) underwent re-resection, and 29 ultimately had a secondary negative margin (secondary R0). There was no difference in morbidity, 30-day mortality, and length of stay among patients who had primary R0, secondary R0, and R1 resection (all p > 0.10). Median and 5-year survival were 22.3 months and 23.3%, respectively, among patients who had a primary R0 resection compared with 18.5 months and 7.9%, respectively, for patients with an R1 resection (p = 0.08). In contrast, among patients who had a secondary R0 margin with re-resection of the bile duct margin, median and 5-year survival were 30.6 months and 44.3%, respectively, which was comparable to patients with a primary R0 margin (p = 0.804). On multivariable analysis, R1 margin resection was associated with decreased survival (R1: hazard ratio [HR] 1.3, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.0-1.7; p = 0.027), but secondary R0 resection was associated with comparable long-term outcomes as primary R0 resection (HR 0.9, 95% CI 0.4-2.3; p = 0.829).
CONCLUSIONS - Additional resection of a positive frozen-section ductal margin to achieve R0 resection was associated with improved long-term outcomes following curative-intent resection of HCCA.