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Liver Surgery

Liver Surgery

The liver is the largest organ in the body, located in the upper right part of the abdomen. It has multiple functions including:

  • Converting sugar into energy
  • Assist with the digestion of fats
  • Assist with the excretion of waste products
  • Protection against infections
  • Production of blood clotting factors
  • Regulation of sex hormones and cholesterol level
  • Metabolism and elimination of various drugs

Different liver disorders affect the normal functioning of the liver. Liver resection means that part of the liver is removed with surgery, usually as a way of removing a tumour in the liver.

Liver tumours are categorized into:

  • Primary Tumours: These tumours develop within the liver. Common malignant liver tumours include hepatocellular carcinomas and cholangiocarcinomas.
  • Metastatic Tumours: They develop in some other organ and migrate to the liver through the bloodstream.

Colorectal cancer is the most common cause of liver metastases. Single or even multiple tumours involving both lobes of the liver can be resected safely and with a high rate of cure.

Liver resection may also be employed for benign tumours of the liver such as a cyst, adenoma, or haemangioma in certain circumstances. Resection may be performed with laparoscopic, open or robotic surgery.

Liver resection does not usually require blood transfusion and takes 2-5 hours. Up to 80% of the liver can be removed in fit individuals. Following surgery, the liver can regenerate. Complete regeneration of the resected liver may take 6-8 weeks. Good nutrition with a high protein diet is crucial for liver regeneration.

Patients may be required to stay in the hospital for up to 5-7 days after the procedure

Risks & Complications

The common complications associated with liver surgery include:

  • Liver failure
  • Liver abscess
  • Infection around the surgical site
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Bile leakage
  • Pneumonia

Post-operative Care

Dressings can be removed one week following liver surgery. It is important to stay active although it is best to avoid heavy (>10kgs) lifting for 6 weeks following the surgery.

  • Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
  • Chris O'brien Lifehouse
  • The Mater Hospital
  • Strathfield Private Hospital
  • Australia and New Zealand Hepatic, Pancreatic and Biliary Association Incorporated
  • St George private hospital