Liver Surgery / Surgical Liver Resection
Resection, or the removal of the diseased (cancerous) area of the liver, is one of the most frequently performed liver operations for intrahepatic (inside the liver) tumours – in particular for primary liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Resection is usually the most appropriate curative treatment if the tumour is small and no important blood vessels are affected. Sometimes the surgeon may remove one of the two liver ‘lobes’ (known as a lobectomy).
Benign (ie, non-cancerous) tumours of the liver (adenoma, hemangioma and liver cysts) can also be successfully treated by resection.
An ‘open’ resection operation usually takes between 3 and 5 hours and is performed without the need for a blood transfusion. Recovery usually takes about a month – but only the first five days or so are likely to be spent in hospital. For the first few days after the operation patients will not be able to eat or drink and intravenous drips are set up to provide pain relief and essential fluids.
Alternatively a minimally invasive, laparoscopic, operation might be more appropriate. This procedure usually takes about the same amount of time in surgery as an open procedure, but it is associated with less blood loss and faster post-operative recovery and return to normal activities. Overall, a laparoscopic procedure is likely to be just as successful in removing the cancer tissues as open surgery.
Following any resection procedure the liver will regenerate to its pre-operative size - typically within about two months.
Results from liver resections are usually very encouraging.