You cannot live without your liver. It is a vital organ. It works 24/7 to metabolize and remove toxins that we ingest every day, including alcohol, the overconsumption of which can cause cirrhosis – damage to the liver. The liver also removes ammonia and bilirubin from the blood and effectuates the development of certain enzymes that are critically important for ongoing health.
As with any other organ, the liver can become diseased. Some of these diseases may require the partial or complete removal of the liver, known as a hepatectomy or liver resection. Of course, complete removal requires a transplant, typically from a donor who has passed away. A partial liver can also be donated from a living donor.
Partial hepatectomy is commonly performed to remove benign or malignant liver tumors. This is especially true for liver cancer secondary to colorectal cancer. Part of the liver may also be removed because of gallstones that enter the liver or parasitic cysts. You can also learn more about bile duct cancer that may require the removal of part of the liver.
There are multiple options for removing the liver. However, patients will most likely prefer the immediate benefits of minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, such as smaller incisions, less blood loss, and often shorter procedure and recovery times. Both an open surgery and a minimally invasive surgery to remove a liver tumor will require general anesthesia and remain in the hospital for one or more days after the surgery.
Not all liver cancers can be treated using a partial hepatectomy. Advanced imaging such as CT or MRI can tell us if the tumor is too large or has spread to other areas of the body. Cirrhosis of the liver also reduces its ability to perform vital functions; therefore, removing part of this less efficient liver may not be possible.
There are risks associated with removing a liver tumor, and testing will help reveal factors that need to be assessed before surgery is pursued. Your surgeon can review your results and recommend the best course of action. Contact us to schedule a consultation with our surgeons.