Background and Aim: The aims of this study were to determine whether a postoperative decrease in skeletal muscle mass (SMM) after hepatic resection can predict long-term outcomes in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and identify risk factors for SMM loss in patients who undergo hepatic resection. Methods: This was a large retrospective study of 400 patients who underwent hepatic resection for HCC and pre- and postoperative computed tomography (CT) scans. SMM was measured at the third lumbar vertebrae, and the postoperative change in SMM compared with preoperative values was calculated as Δ SMM. The cutoff value for the post-/preoperative ratio was set at 0.9. Results: Sixty patients (15.0%) developed SMM loss. These patients had a significantly prolonged prothrombin time (P = 0.0092), longer duration of surgery (P = 0.0021), more blood loss (P = 0.0040), and higher rate of postoperative complications (P = 0.0037) than those without SMM loss. Multivariate analysis revealed that prolonged prothrombin time and postoperative complications were independent risk factors for SMM loss after hepatic resection. Patients with SMM loss had significantly shorter overall survival (P = 0.0018) than the other patients had. SMM loss was an independent prognostic factor for overall survival (hazard ratio 1.551, 95% confidential interval 1.028–2.340, P = 0.0363). Conclusions: We demonstrated an association of SMM loss with postoperative complications and long-term prognosis in patients with HCC. Patients with prolonged prothrombin time, or postoperative complications, may need to maintain their SMM. Further prospective studies are needed to investigate whether nutritional support can improve SMM loss.
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