Liver Resection Surgery
The liver is the largest solid organ in the body. It is also the largest gland in the body. The liver is one of the few organs that can keep working and reproduce itself, even when a large part of it is removed. The liver has two large parts, called the right and the left lobes. The gallbladder sits under the liver, along with parts of the pancreas and intestines. The liver and these organs work together to digest, absorb, and process food.
The liver's main job is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body. The liver also filters toxins from your blood, and breaks down and absorbs drugs. The liver makes bile that empties into the intestines. The liver also makes proteins needed for blood clotting and other functions.
Liver resection is the surgical removal of part of the liver. Liver resection can range from somewhat small (one or less than one segment) to major (up to six segments). During a liver resection, the part of your liver that contains the mass is removed, along with some healthy liver tissue on either side. If a major part of your liver is removed, your gallbladder, which is attached to the liver, is also removed.
You will need general anesthesia with this surgery. The operation can take 2 to 8 hours. A blood transfusion is sometimes needed for this operation. You will have an incision in the abdomen just below the rib cage or you may have 3-4 small incisions if the surgery is done laparoscopically. You may stay in the hospital for 5 to 7 days or as long as 2 weeks after surgery.
Day before Surgery-Bowel Prep
- You will need to buy 2-(10 oz.) bottles of Magnesium Citrate. You can find this at a pharmacy without a doctor's order. It tastes better chilled.
- Eat a light breakfast and lunch. After lunch drink only clear liquids until 4 hours before your surgery begins. Take medicines as directed with a sip of water in the morning.
|Water||Homemade Jell-O®, no Jell-O® cups|
|Juices with no pulp; apple, cranberry||Coffee or tea without milk or creamer|
|No dairy products, No alcohol||Gatorade® G3 Recover (silver label)|
3. At 2 pm, drink the first bottle of Magnesium Citrate 10 oz.
4. At 3 pm, drink the second bottle of Magnesium Citrate 10 oz.
5. You may keep drinking only clear liquids until 4 hrs before your surgery begins.
6. Shower before bed and in the morning before you leave home.
- Wear loose clothing.
- You may shower once okayed by your doctor.
- Bruising at your incision site is common.
- Check your wounds daily and report problems such as:
- Increased redness, swelling or warmth.
- Drainage such as blood or pus.
- Temperature over 100.4 F by mouth for two readings taken 4 hours apart.
- Excess bruising.
- If you go home with a drain; we will teach you how to care for it.
- It is normal to have a hard area along the length of your incision.
Expect to have pain after surgery. Some patients report pain for months after surgery. If your surgery was done laparoscopically, expect to have less pain. You will have pain medicine to ease the pain. You will have pain pills to use at home.
- We will help you walk the day after surgery. Plan to take 4 walks a day; this is a vital part of your recovery.
- Plan for rest times during the day. Major fatigue is very common as the liver restores it self.
- Light activity at home is encouraged after surgery.
- Do not lift more than 10 pounds for 6 weeks.
- Nothing more strenuous than walking or climbing stairs until okayed by your doctor.
- Check with your doctor before going back to work.
- No driving while you are taking narcotic pain pills.
- It may take 2-3 months or more for you to feel like yourself again.
- Resume sex when you feel ready, this may not be for several weeks.
- Avoid all tobacco including second hand smoke.
It will take your body time to adjust from surgery. You may not feel like eating much for days to weeks. Your diet will change slowly. Each person's tolerance for food varies. Most of our patients go home on a modified regular diet. Drink plenty of fluid each day and slowly increase the fiber in your diet to prevent constipation. If you do not feel like eating food, try to have up to 3 servings of liquid protein drinks a day. Examples of liquid protein drinks are Ensure®, Enlive®, Boost®, and Carnation® Instant Breakfast.
When to Call the Doctor
- Whites of your eyes turn yellow
- Skin develops a yellow color
- Dark urine (the color of tea)
- Itchy skin
- Incision is more red or warm to touch
- Pus-like drainage
- Excess swelling or bleeding
- Temperature (by mouth) above 100.4º F for 2 readings taken 4 hours apart.
- Pain not controlled with pain pills
- Nausea or vomiting
- Any new symptoms that concern you.
Surgery Clinic: (608) 263-7502. This is a 24 hour number.
After hours and weekends this number will be answered by the paging operator. Ask for the doctor on call for Dr. Cho, Dr. Weber, Dr. Winslow or Dr. Neuman. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
Toll Free: 1-800-323-8942
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 07/07/2011
Copyright © 06/22/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7227
Print Health Fact For You