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Liver Resection

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.


Liver resection is surgery to remove part of your liver.

Abdominal Organs


Before your surgery:

  • Arrange to have someone drive you home when you are discharged from the hospital.
  • Tell your surgeon about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for surgery, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of surgery.
  • Tell your surgeon if you recently received chemotherapy. You may need to wait to have your surgery for up to 8 weeks after you get chemotherapy. This may help decrease any problems after your surgery.
  • Your surgeon may have you eat low-fat, high-protein foods if you have fat deposits in your liver. You may need to do this for a few weeks before your surgery. Certain liver problems may make it hard for you to eat, and you may lose weight. You may need IV liquid nutrition if you are not able to eat enough before your surgery. Ask for more information about any other food changes you may need to make.
  • You may need to have biliary drainage to decrease your bilirubin levels before your surgery. Ask for more information about biliary drainage to prevent jaundice.
  • You may need to have portal vein embolization 2 to 4 weeks before your surgery. Your portal vein is a large blood vessel that carries blood to your liver. Your surgeon may block the vein to see how well the healthy part of your liver functions. This will show if the liver that will be left can function on its own.
  • You may need to have a CT, PET, or MRI scan. You also may need an abdominal ultrasound and a chest x-ray. Blood tests will be done to check the function of your liver and other organs. You may need a colonoscopy and upper gastrointestinal endoscopy to check for any problems or disease. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these and other tests you may need.

The night before your surgery:

You may be told not to eat or drink anything after midnight.

The day of your surgery:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Antibiotics may be given through your IV to prevent a bacterial infection.
  • An arterial line is a tube placed into an artery to measure your blood pressure. It may also be used to take blood.
  • A central venous pressure (CVP) line is a tube put in a vein near your collarbone, or in your neck or groin. The CVP line can monitor the fluid and pressure in your blood vessels. The CVP line also may be used to give medicines or fluids.
  • A blood transfusion may be needed during or after surgery if you lose a large amount of blood. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about blood transfusions.


What will happen:

  • Your surgeon will make an incision in your abdomen just below your ribs. If the right side of your liver is being removed, your gallbladder will also be taken out. Lymph nodes will be removed if they look diseased, and sent to a lab for tests.
  • Your surgeon will remove the diseased part of your liver. Blood flow through the remaining part of your liver will be checked. Your surgeon will stop any areas of bleeding.
  • Your incision will be closed with stitches or tissue glue and covered with a bandage. The liver tissue that was removed may be sent to a lab for tests.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room where you can rest until you are fully awake. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. A healthcare provider may remove your bandages soon after your surgery to check your surgery area. When healthcare providers see that you are not having any problems, you will be taken to a hospital room.


  • You have a fever, a cold, or the flu.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You feel very weak or get tired easily.
  • You have a decreased appetite and are losing weight.
  • You have new or worsening yellowing of your skin, or the whites of your eyes.
  • You have severe abdominal pain.


  • During surgery, your blood vessels may be damaged. You may lose large amounts of blood. Air may also enter your blood vessels. This could be life-threatening if it enters your heart.
  • After surgery, bile may leak from your bile ducts into your abdomen. The fluids used during your surgery may build up in your abdomen and lungs. Fluid buildup can make it hard to breathe. Even if the cancer is removed, it may come back. You may need another liver resection to remove the cancer. An abscess (pus pocket) may form in your abdomen. You may get a life-threatening blood clot. Your lungs and heart may not function as they should, and you may have a heart attack. The remaining area of your liver may fail. This can become life-threatening.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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