Liver Resection Surgery

A liver resection surgery is used to treat liver cancers by removing a part, or parts, of the liver that contain cancer cells, or tumors. This procedure is either surgically or minimally invasively.

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The University of Cincinnati Cancer Center is the most experienced liver cancer treatment center in the region. You will be receiving the best treatment possible with our world-class, multidisciplinary team.

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We focus the expertise of the region’s most advanced gastrointestinal cancer team on delivering only the best results. Our nationally recognized cancer subspecialists offer you access to standard therapies as well as the latest treatments and leading-edge clinical trials.

To schedule an appointment, please call the UC Gastrointestinal Cancer team at 513-585-UCCC.

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Answers to Your Questions about Liver Resection Surgery

During this procedure, the surgeon will either use a long cut, or incision in the abdomen, or it can be done laparoscopically in a less invasive procedure. The laparoscopic option involves several small incisions in the abdomen, in which, long, thin surgical tools are placed to remove part of the liver.

The main tool that makes this possible is called a laparoscope, which is a thin stick-like tool with a tiny camera on the end of it. It allows the surgeon to see inside the body and perform the surgery without the need for a larger opening.

The surgery may be done differently depending on the cancer size, location, how much it has spread, the health and function of the liver, as well as the overall health of the patient. Up to 80% of the liver can be removed by this procedure, while still ensuring the ability for the liver to regenerate. University of Cincinnati Cancer Center physicians have the expertise and technology to ensure the return of healthy liver function during the recovery process.

Benefits of Laparoscopic Resection vs. Open Resection

The main benefit of a laparoscopic liver resection is a quicker recovery and a shorter hospital stay. It is also unlikely for scarring to occur, and if it does, it would be barely visible. Most importantly, the cancer outcome is not compromised by going with one option over the other.

Liver resection surgery offers the best chance to cure liver cancer because it removes the cancerous tumor completely while leaving behind the healthy parts of liver to heal and regrow after the procedure.

This procedure is considered complicated and high-risk. Patients want to make sure they will benefit from undergoing such a procedure at a center, like the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, that performs this procedure successfully on a regular weekly basis.

This ensures the best outcome, including the highest chance of survival, proper recovery and lowest chance of cancer recurrence.

There is a small portion of people with liver cancer that would be allowed to receive this option for treatment. It may not be an option for the following reasons:

  • Presence of cirrhosis or other liver damage.

  • The tumor is too large, taking up too much of the liver.

  • The patient’s liver is not healthy enough.

  • The cancer has spread beyond the liver to other parts of the body.

You may be a candidate to have surgery if:

  • Your cancer is in only one part of the liver, even if it has grown into a blood vessel.

  • The rest of your liver is fairly healthy and you are generally healthy enough. 

  • Your cancer is only in the liver, but it's too big or in too many places. In this case, you may be able to have surgery to remove your entire liver, followed by a liver transplant.

The following types of liver cancer can be treated using surgical resection:

  • Primary liver cancer. Liver cancer that begins in the cells of the liver

  • Bile duct cancer. Liver cancer that begins in the bile ducts—the tubes that connect the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine.

  • Metastatic colon and rectal cancer. Cancer that has spread to the colon and rectum.

Metastatic cancer from other sites. Cancer that has spread to the liver from other areas of the body.

If a patient undergoes an open resection, recovery is between six weeks and  three months, depending on multiple factors pertaining to the individual surgery and a patient's health. If the surgery is laparoscopic or robotic, the recovery time is anywhere between two and six weeks, again determined by the patient’s health and other factors.

There are no long-term side effects, besides possible scarring at the incision site. Some post-liver resection complications are very rare but could include:

  • Liver failure.

  • Bile leakage.

  • Bleeding.

  • Kidney problems.

  • Blood clots.

  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen.


  • Possible weight loss due to recommended diet changes post surgery.
    • Weight loss after liver resection is most often a side effect of drastic necessary diet changes and should not be viewed as positive result of the surgery. Diet changes are meant to accomodate the recovery process and should return to normal as the patient recovers.


The proper recovery process and monitoring by your care team, as well as the prior determinations needed to undergo the surgery in the first place, all decrease the likelihood of these complications occurring.

During the procedure, pain is managed through medication.  We use a personalized approach for each patient that does not require the use of narcotics or opioids, and instead may use a combination of anti-inflammatory medications administered directly into the surgical site.

While unlikely, after a successful removal of the cancer from the liver, it is still possible for cancer to return due to many factors specific to the individual patient. Patients are required to have a follow up period after this treatment to ensure a complete recovery, but to also manage any recurring cancer as soon as it is discovered.

Why UC Health

Experience and Expertise

Unparalled Experience

At the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, we perform more liver resection surgeries than any other center in the region, improving our patients’ chances of survival, recovery and long-term health.

Multidisciplinary Care

Curing cancer is a puzzle best solved when the brightest experts work together to form the best treatment plan possible, not only in surgery, but all aspects of cancer treatment.

Minimally Invasive Technology

Our surgeons are both trained and highly experienced at performing leading-edge treatments like laparoscopic liver resection. We prove better outcomes with shorter recovery time.

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Referring Physicians: Success and Provider Toolbox

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