Liver Resection Operation

What Is Liver Resection?

What is liver resection?

Liver resection is a surgical procedure used to remove a liver tumour. The aim of the procedure is to remove part of the liver to extract the benign or malignant tumours whilst still leaving enough of the organ for it to function properly. It is typically recommended as a cancer treatment.

To be eligible for the surgery, the liver needs to be working well, and it may not be possible if a patient has a severe liver disease (for example, cirrhosis).

Who is a good candidate for liver resection?

Liver resection is also known as a partial hepatectomy as it removes part of the liver. According to the American Cancer Society, “Only people with a good liver function who are healthy enough for surgery and who have a single tumour that has not grown into blood vessels can have this operation.”

Humans can cope with the removal of up to two-thirds of the liver, and it usually grows back within 3 months of the operation.

Is there more than one type of liver resection?

Yes, and the type of surgery you have depends on the area of the liver that is being removed. For example, when removing the right part of the liver, this is called a right hemi-hepatectomy – and it removes the gallbladder which is also in this area.

Furthermore, the amount of liver that is removed depends on the size and position of the tumour. There are usually no long-term side effects after the operation, and the patient can recover at home.

How is liver resection performed?

There are two ways in which liver resection can be performed: through open surgery or using keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery.

Open surgery involves the surgeon making an incision just below the ribcage and across the right side of the upper abdomen to remove the tumour. The duration of this operation can take anywhere from three to six hours, taking into account the nature and location of the tumours. With open surgery, patients usually recover around 5 to 7 days after the procedure and can go home.

Laparoscopic liver resection is the favoured surgery out of the two because it’s minimally invasive. This procedure is carried out by creating four or five small incisions about the size of a keyhole to remove the benign or malignant tumours. The instruments are inserted through the abdomen and avoid larger cuts and wounds which occur in open surgery. Keyhole surgery recovery can take 2 to 3 days for a smaller resection, and 4 to 5 days for a bigger resection.

Liver resection recovery

After the surgery, patients are advised to avoid lifting heavy objects or doing strenuous activities such as gardening or vacuuming.

During the 4 to 6 weeks that follow the resection, patients continue with prescribed medication, which includes painkillers. It’s a good idea to eat well, and rest as much as possible, as tiredness is very common. It can also be helpful to increase movement gradually until the liver has completely restored its normal functions.

Book an appointment today

For more information about liver surgery, please read our article on preparing for your liver resection surgery. If you need more guidance on the best treatment for liver tumours, don’t hesitate to contact us at Birmingham HPB Clinic.