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Our general surgeons use minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery when possible, so you heal faster and get back to your normal lifestyle.

Liver Surgery

Anatomy and liver surgery

The liver is a large and important organ; in fact, it is the biggest internal organ in the entire body. It produces bile (digestive fluid), removes toxins from the blood, and helps the body metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. The liver is what rids your body of toxins such as drugs, alcohol, and other substances, and has an enormous capacity both to heal itself and keep the rest of the body healthy. It goes without saying, then, that liver disease and cancer can cause serious damage to the entire body.

Liver conditions can be caused by a variety of factors. For example, the excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to liver inflammation, jaundice, and cirrhosis (scarring). However, even people who do not drink can develop non-alcoholic liver disease (NALD), a term that refers to a wide range of liver diseases that occur in people who do not consume excessive amounts of alcohol. This category includes non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and cirrhosis.

  • Non-alchoholic steatohepatitis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Liver cancer

Liver Conditions

Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is a liver disease that involves the accumulation of fat in the liver along with inflammation and damage. NASH is commonly referred to as a "silent" disease, since it shows few or no symptoms until it has reached more advanced stages. Symptoms are generally non-specific and include fatigue, weight loss, and overall malaise.

Cirrhosis

The liver has an amazing capacity to heal itself after being exposed to a number of toxins every day. With cirrhosis, the healing process becomes somewhat skewed, and instead of forming new, healthy tissue, the liver produces an excessive amount of large cells that lead to chronic scarring. This scarring inhibits the liver's ability to function properly. In its advanced stages, cirrhosis can cause symptoms such as weight loss, jaundice, chronic itching, fluid retention, and mental confusion.

Liver Cancer

Cancer can either originate in the liver or metastasize from other areas of the body. Like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, liver cancer doesn't generally exhibit specific symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage. When symptoms do appear, they can include fatigue, weight and appetite loss, an enlarged liver, a swollen and painful abdomen, and jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes). Although liver cancer can be a difficult condition to treat, surgery can prevent a tumor from spreading or eliminate it entirely, depending on how early the cancer is caught.

Liver surgery procedure

If you have symptoms of a liver problem (such as jaundice or dark urine), abnormal liver imaging or blood tests, a chronic liver condition, or have been treated with medications that are known to affect the liver, your doctor may want to schedule a biopsy to check the health of your liver. During the biopsy, your doctor will pass a fine needle through the skin and into the liver and remove a small tissue sample to examine under a microscope. A biopsy is the only way to effectively diagnose liver cancer and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and can help your doctor identify other conditions as well.

Although non-alcoholic liver disease cannot be treated surgically, liver cancer can be targeted through surgical resection. This surgery simply involves removing the portion of the liver affected by cancer in order to eradicate the tumor and prevent it from spreading. This is the only way to completely eliminate liver cancer.

Liver surgery is performed under general anesthesia so you are asleep during the surgery and feel no pain.

Preparing for liver surgery

  • Your surgeon will tell you what you may need to do the night before the surgery, which may include not taking any regular medications you normally take.
  • When you arrive at the hospital on the day of your surgery, you'll be placed in pre-operative care area with a nurse.
  • After interviewing you about your medical history, your anesthesiologist will begin an intravenous drip with your general anesthesia.

After liver surgery

  • The usual length of a patient's hospital stay following laparoscopic liver surgery is one to two days; it is four to five days for open surgery.
  • Directly after surgery, you will have an IV attached to your arm. This will keep you fed and hydrated until you can eat again (usually within a few days).
  • You will have a small tube called a catheter inserted into your bladder to drain your urine into a collecting bag for a few days. This will prevent you from having to get up to use the restroom.
  • You should be feeling back to normal within six weeks following surgery.

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