The albumin-bilirubin score stratifies the outcomes of Child-Pugh class A patients after resection of hepatocellular carcinoma

Andrea Ruzzenente, Michela De Angelis, Simone Conci, Tommaso Campagnaro, Giulia Isa, Fabio Bagante, Andrea Ciangherotti, Corrado Pedrazzani, Paola Capelli, Calogero Iacono, Alfredo Guglielmi


Background: The albumin-bilirubin (ALBI) score is a mathematical model including serum albumin and bilirubin, recently proposed as an alternative prognostic tool in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The aims of this study were to provide evidence that the ALBI score can identify different prognostic groups in Child-Pugh (CP) class A patients undergoing liver resection with curative intent and to verify the ability of the ALBI score to predict short-term and long-term outcomes.
Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis on patients classified as class A according to the CP score who underwent liver resection with curative intent for HCC between 2006 and 2016 in the Division of Hepatobiliary Surgery at the University of Verona. Patients were divided according to the ALBI score and the presence or absence of preoperative clinically significant portal hypertension (CSPH).
Results: Among the 187 CP class A patients, 125 patients (66.8%) were ALBI 1 and 62 patients (33.2%) were ALBI 2. The 5-year overall survival (OS) was 49.2% in the entire cohort and was 57.1% and 33.5% for ALBI 1 and ALBI 2, respectively (P=0.0014). ALBI 2 patients showed a higher rate of post-hepatectomy liver failure (PHLF), 9.7% vs. 2.4% for ALBI 1 (P=0.027). In the multivariate analysis, the ALBI score [hazard ratio (HR) 1.9, P=0.026], stage of fibrosis (HR 2.0, P=0.02) and vascular invasion (HR 3.1, P<0.001) were the independent factors associated with OS. CSPH was identified in 60 (32.1%) patients. Of the patients with CSPH, the 5-year OS was 44.6% and 25.2% for ALBI 1 and ALBI 2, respectively (P=0.031). Of the patients without CSPH, the 5-year OS was 62.5% and 37.6% for ALBI 1 and ALBI 2, respectively (P=0.021).
Conclusions: The ALBI score represents a simple tool to stratify the risk of PHLF and OS in CP class A HCC patients undergoing surgery and to evaluate the prognosis in patients with CSPH. This study justifies the use of the ALBI score in clinical practice to better select patients before surgery.