Hepatic Resection

(Resection, Hepatic; Liver Resection; Resection, Liver)

How to Say It: heh-PA-tik ree-SEK-shun


Hepatic resection is surgery to remove part of the liver. The liver is an organ. It helps the body digest food and get rid of toxins.

Reasons for Procedure

This surgery is done to:

  • Treat cancerous and non-cancerous tumors in the liver
  • Treat cancer that has spread to the liver
  • Remove part of the liver for so it can be transplanted
  • Treat injury to the liver

Liver Disease from Cirrhosis

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Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Damage to other organs or structures
  • Low blood glucose levels
  • Liver failure

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Whether you need a ride to and from surgery
  • Tests that will need to be done before surgery, such as imaging
  • Chemotherapy to shrink liver tumors


General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep.

Description of the Procedure

An incision will be made in the upper abdomen, under the rib cage. Any tumors on the liver will be removed. Sometimes the gallbladder also needs to be removed. The doctor may check the liver with an ultrasound probe. This is to make sure there are no more tumors.

The doctor may place a tube in the areato drain fluids. It will be taken out before leaving the hospital. The incision will be closed with stitches or staples. A bandage will be placed over the site.

How Long Will It Take?

About 3 to 7 hours

Will It Hurt?

Pain and swelling are common in the first 1 to 2 weeks. Medicine and home care help.

Average Hospital Stay

The usual length of stay is 3 to 7 days. You may need to stay longer if you have problems.

Post-procedure Care

At the Hospital

After the procedure, the staff may give medicines to control pain or nausea.

During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your incisions covered

There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection such as:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and staff to do the same
  • Reminding staff to wear gloves or masks
  • Not letting others touch your incision

At Home

Recovery takes up to 6 weeks. Physical activity will be limited during this time. You will need to ask for help around the house and delay return to work.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, excessive bleeding or any discharge from the incision
  • Skin that is itchy or yellow
  • Confusion or trouble remembering things
  • Lasting nausea or vomiting
  • Pain that you cannot control with medicine
  • Weakness or feeling faint

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


American Cancer Society
American Liver Foundation


Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Liver Foundation


Orcutt S, Anaya D. Liver resection and surgical strategies for management of primary liver cancer. Cancer Control. Jan-Mar 2018;25(1):1073274817744621.
Hepatocellular carcinoma in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hepatocellular-carcinoma-in-adults. Accessed January 15, 2021.
What is liver cancer? American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/liver-cancer/about/what-is-liver-cancer.html. Accessed January 15, 2021
Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 1/15/2021

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