Background: Combining resection and thermal ablation can improve short-term postoperative outcomes in patients with colorectal liver metastases (CRLM). This study assessed nationwide hospital variation and short-term postoperative outcomes after combined resection and ablation.
Methods: In this population-based study, all CRLM patients who underwent resection in the Netherlands between 2014 and 2018 were included. After propensity score matching for age, ASA-score, Charlson-score, diameter of largest CRLM, number of CRLM and earlier resection, postoperative outcomes were compared. Postoperative complicated course (PCC) was defined as discharge after 14 days or a major complication or death within 30 days of surgery.
Results: Of 4639 included patients, 3697 (80%) underwent resection and 942 (20%) resection and ablation. Unadjusted percentage of patients who underwent resection and ablation per hospital ranged between 4 and 44%. Hospital variation persisted after case-mix correction. After matching, 734 patients remained in each group. Hospital stay (median 6 vs. 7 days, p = 0.011), PCC (11% vs. 14.7%, p = 0.043) and 30-day mortality (0.7% vs. 2.3%, p = 0.018) were lower in the resection and ablation group. Differences faded in multivariable logistic regression due to inclusion of major hepatectomy.
Conclusion: Significant hospital variation was observed in the Netherlands. Short-term postoperative outcomes were better after combined resection and ablation, attributed to avoiding complications associated with major hepatectomy.