Background: Few studies have investigated the association between epidural analgesia (EA) and oncologic outcomes in patients following hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) resection. Methods: This retrospective study was conducted at a single medical center using electronic medical records. Patients with nonmetastatic primary HCC undergoing tumor resection between January 2005 and December 2011 were classified into two groups based on their use of EA or intravenous analgesia. Multivariate Cox regression analyses were used to evaluate the associations between EA and recurrence-free (RFS) and overall (OS) survival. The patients were also propensity score-matched by demographic and important clinicopathologic variables. Results: A total of 744 patients (58.5% receiving EA) with a median follow-up time of 64.5 months and 277 matched pairs were included in the analyses before and after matching. No significant association between EA and cancer recurrence or overall mortality was found before matching (RFS: adjusted hazard ratio [HR] = 0.97, 95% CI: 0.80-1.17; OS: adjusted HR = 0.95, 95% CI: 0.71-1.26). After matching, the association between EA and cancer recurrence or overall mortality remained nonsignificant (RFS: HR = 0.89, 95% CI: 0.68-1.17; OS: HR = 1.20, 95% CI: 0.81-1.78). Conclusion: This study did not support a definite association between EA and cancer recurrence or OS in patients with primary HCC after surgical resection.
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