Liver resection

Surgery Overview

Liver resection is the surgical removal of part of the liver. This operation is for some types of liver cancer and for certain cases of metastatic colorectal cancer. Up to half of your liver can be removed as long as the rest is healthy.

During a liver resection, the part of your liver that contains cancer is removed, along with some healthy liver tissue on either side. If the right side of your liver is removed, your gallbladder, which is attached to the liver, is also taken out.

What To Expect After Surgery

Liver resection requires general anesthesia. The operation can take 2 to 5 hours. A blood transfusion is not usually needed for this operation. You may stay in the hospital for 5 to 7 days or as long as 2 weeks after surgery.

Follow-up care is needed because of the possibility that colorectal cancer will return, even if the surgery was successful. Treatment following liver resection may include chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

Why It Is Done

Liver resection is used to treat colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver. Removing the cancer from the liver helps to keep it from spreading farther. This operation is unlikely to cure metastatic colorectal cancer, but it can help you live longer.

How Well It Works

Liver resection successfully removes areas of metastatic colorectal cancer from the liver. However, because the cancer has traveled to the liver from another site, this surgery does not cure colorectal cancer.

Risks

Possible complications after a liver resection include:

  • Infection.
  • Bleeding.
  • Scar tissue from the surgery.

What To Think About

While a liver resection may help you live longer, it is unlikely to cure the disease.

It may not be a good choice if you have areas of metastatic colorectal cancer in both lobes of your liver or if you have metastatic disease in other parts of your body.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be needed after a liver resection.

Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.

Last Updated: October 1, 2008

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