Facts About Liver Surgery

Liver surgery may be necessary if someone has liver cancer, liver tumors or liver disease. Because the liver serves such an essential purpose in the body, a healthy liver is vital for living. If you are facing the partial or full removal of your liver, you may be wondering what to expect.

What is liver surgery?

Liver surgery is often referred to as liver resection, or a hepatectomy is the entire or partial removal of the liver. The most common type of liver surgery is a liver resection. Resection may be performed on a cadaver to remove the liver to supply another person with the liver, or it could be performed on a live person to procure a portion of liver tissue for a variety of reasons. Traditionally, liver procedures were performed through open surgery. Today, more minimally invasive techniques can be used for this surgery.

Can a person live without their liver?

The liver performs many critical functions and is considered a vital organ, meaning that a person cannot live without it. The liver removes toxins from the body, stores glycogen, metabolizes drugs and synthesizes proteins and enzymes the body needs to function correctly. No other organ in the body can perform the duties of the liver. The liver is made up of eight sections, also known as lobes.

Is it safe to remove part of the liver?

Up to three-quarters of the liver can safely be removed. The liver has the innate ability to regenerate itself when enough of it remains in place. The regeneration process only requires a few weeks to a few months so that lobes of the liver can be removed from healthy people and transplanted into sick individuals. It also means that diseased lobes or tumorous lobes can be removed from an infected person and that person can regenerate healthier tissues to replace them.

What is minimally invasive liver surgery?

In most cases, laparoscopic surgery rather than a conventional open surgical procedure can be used to remove part of the liver. This minimally invasive type of procedure makes for easier recovery, a shorter surgery, less pain associated with the surgery, fewer scars, the preservation of healthy tissues and a reduced healing period. During a laparoscopic procedure, tiny incisions are made through which small, specialized fiber-optic instruments and a tiny camera are inserted. A monitor is used to view the liver and surgical site. Following this image, the surgeon manipulates the small instruments to perform the resection. This is the type of surgery we perform and recommend.

Is liver surgery right for you?

If you have an unhealthy liver, surgery may be necessary to ensure you live a long, healthy life. Thanks to modern medicine, liver surgery is not nearly as complicated as it once was, making the process easier to recover after having one performed. If you are considering this surgery, call our office to learn more about what to expect from the procedure and your recovery, ensuring you are fully informed as you go forward.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with General & Laparoscopic Surgeons of New York LLP, (212) 548-3267.

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