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Partial hepatectomy for colorectal cancer

What is a partial hepatectomy?

A liver resection, or partial hepatectomy, is a surgical procedure to remove tumors in the liver. Removing the cancerous portion of the liver may help to prevent the disease from spreading more. In some incidences, it may also help to prolong the life of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.

To perform a liver resection surgery, our surgeons make an incision below the ribcage, across the right side of the upper abdomen. An ultrasound device is used to find the liver tumor(s). The diseased portion of the liver is then removed, along with some adjoining healthy liver tissue.

Partial hepatectomy for colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer commonly spreads (metastasizes) to the liver. For some colorectal cancer patients who have metastatic disease in the liver, surgery to remove a portion of the liver containing the cancer may be a viable treatment option.

This procedure can be performed as a traditional open surgical procedure or as a less invasive, laparoscopic surgical procedure. Patients who undergo an open liver resection typically stay in the hospital for about a week.

Laparoscopic liver resection

One innovative way our surgical oncologists are able to treat metastatic colorectal cancer in the liver is with laparoscopic liver resection.

To perform this procedure, your surgical oncologist makes a number of small incisions (rather than one large incision as with open liver resection). A needle is inserted to expand the abdomen with carbon dioxide gas to allow room for instruments to be inserted. Your surgical oncologist uses specialized instruments, including a small telescope with a camera attached, to visualize the abdominal cavity and to remove sections of the liver that are cancerous.

Patients who undergo laparoscopic liver resection tend to:

  • Experience less pain
  • Have a shorter stay in the hospital
  • Recover more quickly
  • Resume other treatments (e.g., chemotherapy) more quickly because they recover from surgery in less time than with open surgery
  • Have less scarring/better cosmetic appearance where incisions are made
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