A liver resection is the surgical removal of all or a portion of the liver. It is also referred to as a hepatectomy, full or partial. A complete liver resection is performed in the setting of a transplant a diseased liver is removed from a deceased donor (cadaver). A living donor may also provide a piece of liver tissue which is procured through a partial hepatectomy, The procedure may be performed through a traditional open procedure or using minimally invasive techniques.
When is Liver Resection Performed
Most hepatectomies are performed for the treatment of hepatic neoplasms, both benign or malignant. Benign neoplasms include hepatocellular adenoma, hepatic hemangioma and focal nodular hyperplasia.The most common malignant neoplasms (cancers) of the liver are metastases; those arising from colorectal cancer are among the most common, and the most amenable to surgical resection. The most common primary malignant tumour of the liver is the hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatectomy may also be the procedure of choice to treat intrahepatic gallstones or parasitic cysts of the liver.
Liver surgery is safe when performed by experienced surgeons with appropriate technological and institutional support. As with most major surgical procedures, there is a marked tendency towards optimal results at the hands of surgeons with high caseloads in selected centres (typically cancer academic medical centers and transplantation centers).
Liver Anatomy and Function
The liver is a vital organ, meaning that one cannot live without it. The liver serves many critical functions including metabolism of drugs and toxins, removing degradation products of normal body metabolism (for example clearance of ammonia and bilirubin from the blood), and synthesis of many important proteins and enzymes (such as factors necessary for blood to clot). The liver, located in the right upper quadrant of the abdominal cavity, is divided into eight (8) segments reflecting the eight (8) major divisions of the portal vein and the bile duct.
Blood enters the liver from two channels, the hepatic artery and the portal vein, bringing nutrients and oxygen to liver cells, also known as hepatocytes, and bile ducts. Blood leaves the liver via the hepatic veins which drain into the inferior vena cava which immediately enters the heart. The liver makes bile, a liquid that helps dissolve fat and eliminate metabolic waste and toxins via the intestine. Each hepatocyte creates bile and excretes it into microscopic channels that join to form bile ducts. Like tributaries joining to form a river, the bile ducts join to form a single "hepatic duct" that brings bile into the intestine.