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(Resection, Hepatic; Liver Resection; Resection, Liver)
Pronounced: heh-PA-tik ree-SEK-shun
by Sarah J. Kerr, BA
Hepatic resection is surgery to remove a portion of the liver.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
Hepatic resection is most often used to treat cancer in the liver. It can also be done for the following reasons:
Possible Complications TOP
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will review potential problems, like:
Factors that may increase the chance of complications:
Long-term side effects are uncommon. This is because the liver is able to regrow and function normally within a few months. However, this regrowth can happen more slowly in older people.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
The doctor may do some of the following:
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
General anesthesia will be used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery.
Description of the Procedure TOP
The doctor will make an incision in the right upper abdomen, under the rib cage. The doctor will remove any tumors on the liver and some of the surrounding healthy tissue. Sometimes the gallbladder will also need to be removed. The doctor may use an ultrasound probe to examine the liver during surgery to make sure there are no remaining tumors. Your doctor may leave a drain going from inside your abdomen to outside your body. This will drain any blood or leakage from the liver. The doctor will close your incision with stitches or staples.
Immediately After Procedure TOP
You will be taken to the intensive care unit for about 24 hours. The hospital staff will monitor you.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
How Much Will It Hurt? TOP
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Average Hospital Stay TOP
The usual length of stay is 3-7 days. The doctor may choose to keep you longer if there are complications.
Post-procedure Care TOP
At the Hospital
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
Recovery takes up to 6 weeks. Your doctor may advise pain medications for discomfort. Your activity will be restricted while you recover. Follow instructions on wound care to prevent infection.
Call Your Doctor TOP
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications, such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Cancer Society
American Liver Foundation
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Liver Foundation
Fernandez, FG, Drebin, JA, Linehan DC, et al. Five-year survival after resection of hepatic metastases from colorectal cancer in patients screened by positron emission tomography with F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG-PET). Ann Surg. 2004;240(3):438.
Hartog A, Mills G. Anaesthesia for hepatic resection surgery. Contin Educ Anaesth Crit Care Pain. 2009;9(1):1-5.
Lai LW. Hepatic resection for colorectal liver metastases. Singapore Med J. 2007;48(7):635.
Treatment for secondary liver cancer. Macmillan Cancer Support website. Available at:
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Updated January 1, 2013. Accessed February 26, 2014.
van den Broek MA, Olde Damink SM, Dejong CH, et al. Liver failure after partial hepatic resection: Definition, pathophysiology, risk factors, and treatment. Liver Int. 2008;28(6):767-780.
Zakaria S, Donohue JH, Que FG, et al. Hepatic resection for colorectal metastases: value for risk scoring systems? Ann Surg. 2007;246 (2):183-191.
6/6/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
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Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James Cornell, MD
Last Updated: 2/26/2014
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