Liver Surgery

What is liver surgery?

general surgeons in an operating theatre

Liver surgery is performed by a general surgeon. Liver resection is the most common type of liver surgery, and involves either a full or partial resection. A liver resection is also known as a hepatectomy.

When should I see a specialist for liver surgery?

Most hepatectomies are performed to remove tumours from the liver. These tumours can be cancerous or noncancerous.

Liver resection is sometimes the treatment of choice to treat intrahepatic gallstones (stones in the liver) or parasitic cysts of the liver as well.

Enquire with our general surgeons.

Did you know?

New research has indicated that the long-term use of aspirin shows promising results in the prevention and treatment of liver cancer.¹

What are the risks of liver surgery?

Liver resection is a complex surgery, and carries some risk. Some general complications after liver resection can include:

● Infection
● Bleeding
● Scar tissue from the surgery
● or adverse reactions or complications from anaesthesia.

More risks specific to liver resection may include:

● Bile leaking from the liver – this may require additional surgery to fix
● Jaundice – a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes
● Liver failure

How do I prepare for liver surgery?

If you have been scheduled for a liver resection, there will usually be some preparation involved before the day of your operation. This may vary depending on the type of surgery you are having, but you can usually expect the following:

You may need to stop taking certain medications, as some medicine might increase your risk of complications. Talk to your general surgeon or anaesthesiologist about any medication you are taking.

You will usually be expected to stop eating and drinking a few hours, or even a day, before surgery. Your general surgeon will advise you on the specifics of this.

Your surgeon might also ask you to do some form of bowel preparation prior to your surgery.

What can I expect during liver surgery?

Liver resection will require general anaesthetic. Once you are ready, and the surgical team are suitably prepared, you will be taken into the operating theater. The anaesthesiologist will then administer the anaesthesia.

You will be connected to an echocardiogram (ECG) machine as well as a blood pressure machine to monitor your heart and circulation. Once you are asleep, you will also need a tube inserted into your airway to assist your breathing throughout your operation.

The surgical team will then proceed with the planned surgery.

Because of the nature of anaesthetic medication, you will not have any memory of the procedure.

What happens after my liver surgery?

Following your liver surgery, you will be taken to a recovery area where you will be carefully monitored by experienced nurses to ensure you wake up safely from the anaesthetic. Once you are safely awake, you will be moved to a general ward to continue your recovery.

You will also have a drip attached, which allows fluid to be administered into your body. This mostly to keep you hydrated but also provides an access point for medication. If required, your general surgeon can prescribe pain medication to keep you comfortable.

You may spend up to 10 days in hospital after a partial hepatectomy, and up to 3 weeks in hospital following a transplant. Your general surgeon will be able to advise you on when you will be able to return to normal duties.

Request an appointment with a general surgeon today.

[1] Xia H, Hui K. Emergence of aspirin as a promising chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agent for liver cancer. Cell Death and Disease. 2017;8(10):e3112. doi:10.1038/cddis.2017.513.