Curative modalities for early hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) include liver resection (LR) and transplantation. For patients with portal hypertension (PH), liver transplantation (LT) is the preferred treatment but is oftentimes limited by organ shortage and can lead candidates to drop off due to disease progression, while hepatectomy has a higher risk of complications. This would pose a dilemma as to whether wait for donor organs or prioritize hepatectomy.
The patient was a 56-year-old male, a case of liver cirrhosis due to hepatitis C with sustained virological response following direct-acting antiviral agents. He was a liver transplant candidate, presented to the gastroenterology outpatient department for a recently-diagnosed liver tumor during a regular follow-up session. Pre-operative survey revealed PH manifested by thrombocytopenia, splenomegaly, huge splenorenal shunt and varices. The patient’s Child-Pugh score was 7.
Considering the patient’s overall condition, tumor size and location, and a shortage of grafts, he underwent segment 5 and 6 partial hepatectomy. The pathological diagnosis was moderately differentiated HCC.
His postoperative course was complicated by refractory intraabdominal infection (IAI) and recovered under aggressive antibiotics treatment. He remained recurrence-free for over a year.
For patients with early resectable HCC, the approach of having a minor hepatectomy followed by salvage transplantation should serve as a compromising strategy. Tumor resection retards the progression of the disease. Comprehensive healthcare can expectantly improve clinical outcomes.

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