Preoperative portal vein embolization (PVE) is often performed as a routine procedure before extended hepatectomy to minimize postoperative liver failure. However, the indications for PVE in perihilar cholangiocarcinoma (PCCA), which differ between institutions, remain controversial. In the present study, we examined the indications for PVE in patients with PCCA. A comprehensive meta-analysis of PVE was performed using the PubMed, Medline, and Cochrane databases. The present study, which included 3033 patients (45 publications), compared the results of 836 cases in the PCCA group and 2197 cases in the other hepatic tumor (OHT) group. In the PCCA group, percent future remnant liver (%FRL) and ratio of %FRL to indocyanine green (ICG) were used as criteria in 71% and 25% of cases, respectively, and a %FRL < 40% was used as indication for PVE in 90% of cases. The rates of resection of the bile duct, simultaneous pancreaticoduodenectomy, and reconstruction of the portal vein and hepatic artery were high in the PCCA group (P < 0.001). Mortality after hepatectomy was 3.7% in the PCCA group and 1.9% in the OHT group (P < 0.001). The indication for PVE in PCCA patients is %FRL < 40% in many institutions. The indications for PVE in PCCA patients should be distinguished from those in other hepatic tumors because of the complex surgery required for PCCA.