Transfusions of packed red blood cells in surgery for liver cancer: predictor of impaired overall survival but not recurrence-free survival – impact of blood transfusions in liver surgery

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



Background: Liver surgery remains a cornerstone of potentially curative multimodal treatments for primary malignancies of the liver and hepatic metastases. Improving perioperative safety is a prerequisite in this context. Perioperative blood transfusions negatively influence postoperative recovery. This study aimed to identify risk factors for perioperative packed red blood cell (PRBC) transfusion and to elucidate its effect on postoperative outcomes. Methods: This was an observational study of a prospective data collection. A monocentric, retrospective analysis of 1118 hepatectomies at the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus between 2013 and 2020 was conducted to compare postoperative short- and long-term outcomes in patients undergoing curative intended liver resection of hepatic primary or secondary malignancies. The outcomes were compared between 356 patients (31.8%) who received PRBC transfusions during surgery or within 7 days after surgery and 762 patients (68.2%) who did not receive PRBC transfusions. Results: Preoperative anemia could be observed in 45.0% of the whole cohort: 65.7% in the PRBC transfusion group and 35.3% in the nontransfused group. Postoperative complications were significantly more common in the PRBC transfusion group in association with prolonged lengths of hospital stay and increased 30-day mortality than in the nontransfused group. After adjustment for possible confounders, preexisting kidney failure, preoperative hemoglobin and albumin levels outside of the reference range, intraoperative plasma transfusions, and overall surgery time were recognized as negative predictors for perioperative PRBC transfusions. PRBC transfusion increased the risk of death by approximately 38.8% (hazard ratio, 1.388; 95% CI, 1.027-1.876; P = .033), whereas no influence on recurrence-free survival (RFS) was observed. Conclusion: PRBC transfusions were associated with postoperative morbidity and mortality after curative-intended surgery for liver cancers and represented an independent poor prognostic indicator for overall survival but not for RFS.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-411
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of gastrointestinal surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

External IDs

ORCID /0000-0002-7017-3738/work/156813795


Sustainable Development Goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Hepatobiliary surgery, Liver malignancy, Overall survival, Packed red blood cell transfusions, Recurrence-free survival