Intra-operative blood salvage (IBS) reduces the use of allogeneic blood transfusion. However, safety of IBS during liver transplantation (LT) for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is questioned due to fear for dissemination of circulating malignant cells. This study aims to assess safety of IBS. HCC patients who underwent LT from January 2006 through December 2019 were included. Patients in whom IBS was used were propensity score matched (1:1) to control patients. Disease-free survival and time to HCC recurrence were assessed with Cox regression models and competing risk models. IBS was used in 192/378 HCC LT recipients, and 127 patients were propensity score matched. Cumulative disease-free survival at 12 and 60 months was 85% and 63% for the IBS group versus 90% and 68% for the no-IBS group. Use of IBS was not associated with impaired disease-free survival (HR 1.07, 95%CI: 0.65–1.76, P = 0.800) nor with increased HCC recurrence (Cause-specific cox model: HR 0.79, 95%CI: 0.36–1.73, P = 0.549, Fine and Gray model: HR: 0.79, 95%CI 0.40–1.57, P = 0.50). In conclusion, IBS during LT did not increase the risk for HCC recurrence. IBS is a safe procedure in HCC LT recipients to reduce the need for allogenic blood transfusion.
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