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Liver Resection: The procedure, risks, complications, preparations

  • Posted on- Jul 29, 2016
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Written by site author.

Liver Resection is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of a part of the liver. It is also known as Hepatectomy (Partial or Total). The Liver Resection procedure involves the abdominal cavity, liver, and gallbladder.

What are the reasons behind a liver resection surgical procedure?

A Liver Resection or Removal of Liver (either partial or total) is performed for the following reasons:

How a liver resection surgical procedure is performed?

  • The Hepatectomy procedure is carried out under general anaesthesia
  • Depending on the amount of liver tissue that is removed, the procedure may be either partial (involving a portion of the liver) or total. This is called Partial or Complete Liver Removal
  • The surgeon first makes an incision over the skin of the upper abdomen on the right side, along and just below the rib cage. This is then extended upwards a little in the midline. Further extension of the incision to below the left rib cage may also be made, if needed
  • The surgeon then cuts the fibrous tissue attached to the liver, in order to free it
  • After clamping-off the blood vessels that feed the portions to be removed, the surgeon then cuts and removes the affected liver segments
  • In cases where transplantation is indicated, the surgeon may remove the diseased liver completely
  • After ensuring that there is no bleeding, the surgeon then closes the abdominal wound in layers

A general surgeon, a liver transplant surgeon, or a vascular surgeon, performs the Liver Resection surgical procedure. The procedure takes anywhere between 3-4 hours.

Preparation needed before a liver resection surgical procedure

  • The physician may evaluate the individual’s medical history to gain a comprehensive knowledge of the overall health status of the patient including information related to the medications that are being currently taken
  • Some medications increase a person’s chances of bleeding and it may be recommended to discontinue them for a period of time, before the procedure is performed
  • Blood tests may be performed to determine if there is a bleeding tendency or any other medical conditions that prevents the person from undergoing the procedure
  • Normally local anaesthesia is not used however do inform the physician if you are allergic to any local anaesthetics, lidocaine, etc
  • Avoid application of any cosmetics, deodorant, or topical medicines on the area, prior to the procedure
  • It is advisable to quit smoking and the use of any nicotine based products, for a while, before the surgery
  • Consumption of alcoholic drinks must also be avoided for a period of time, as instructed
  • The patient must avoid eating or drinking at least 8 hours prior to the surgical procedure, depending on when the procedure is arranged
  • For persons suffering from diabetes, it is important that the blood sugar stays within the normal range if not their diabetologist may have to control blood sugar by recommending insulin or a combination of oral medicines

Diagnostic lab tests needed before a liver resection surgical procedure

Before a Liver Removal (Partial or Total) procedure, the patient has to undergo certain tests, such as:

Risks and complications during liver resection surgical procedure

The possible risks or complications that may arise during the removal of liver (partial or total) surgery are:
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection surrounding the surgical would
  • Anaesthetic complications
  • Accidental injury to major blood vessels, such as the vena cava, or to other neighbouring organs surrounding the liver/kidney

Risks and complications after liver resection surgical procedure

After liver resection procedure the possible complications that may arise are:
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection in the surgical wound
  • Excessive bleeding from other part of the liver
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Incisional hernia
  • Decreased circulation of blood to the remaining part of the liver
  • Abnormal and extended leakage of the bile duct system

Post-operative care needed after a liver resection surgical procedure

At home, the following post-operative care is recommended after a liver resection procedure:
  • Slowly resume daily activities as early as possible, which aids in a faster recovery. The physician may advise individuals to take regular naps during the day, if they feel tired
  • Use a heat pad or warm compress, to relieve pain due to the incision
  • Resume showering and keep the wound clean and dry. Gently wash the surgical wound with a mild soap
  • Replace the dressing on the surgical wound, after showering
  • Compression stockings should be worn for the first few weeks after the procedure
  • Complete the course of prescribed medication, as advised by your physician
  • Avoid taking non-prescription medications, such as aspirin. However, individuals may take acetaminophen to relieve pain, if required (under advice by the physician)
  • Vitamin or mineral supplements may be prescribed by the physician
  • Avoid all activities that are physically strenuous for about 6-8 weeks after surgery
  • Avoid sex till a complete healing has taken place (under advise by the physician)


user profile image
05-09-2017 01:54 AM

I had my liver re-sected on March 4, 2011 plus had a lower wedge of my left lung done during same surgery.

user profile image
08-01-2017 11:55 PM

I had my liver resection last year during the week of Christmas and the liver resection was just one part of a couple of other resections, so I had about two weeks of recovery time, before I was doing housework, etc., but it wasn't bad at all, at least for me.

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