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Liver Resection

Closeup of surgeon's face in operating room

Penn Medicine surgeons perform a high volume of liver surgeries each year. Liver surgery is safer and the best possible outcomes are more likely when performed by experienced surgeons.

Liver resection (or hepatectomy) is a surgery to remove all or a portion of your liver in order to completely remove a benign or cancerous liver tumor. While some liver surgery can be performed laparoscopically (a minimally invasive technique), most will require open surgery.

Liver cancer surgery is performed under general anesthesia. Some patients will receive epidural anesthesia at the beginning of the procedure.

Who Is a Candidate for Liver Cancer Surgery?

Our specialized liver cancer team performs a thorough evaluation to determine who will benefit from liver cancer surgery. After liver cancer is diagnosed, we examine the stage of the disease and your treatment history, as well as your liver health and overall health.

Depending on the type and stage of your liver cancer, you may benefit from neoadjuvant therapy, which involves shrinking your tumor with chemotherapy before performing surgery to remove the cancer.

Types of Liver Cancer Surgery

The type of liver cancer surgery performed depends upon the type and stage of liver cancer. In some cases, other organs close to your liver may also need to be removed, such as your gallbladder or bile duct. Surgery for liver cancer may also involve the removal of lymph nodes to test if the cancer has spread (metastatic liver cancer).

  • Major hepatic resection: This is the removal of three or more of your liver’s eight segments. This surgery could also involve a right or left hepatic lobectomy, which is the removal of the entire right or left section of your liver, respectively.
  • Smaller resections: These are surgeries to remove parts of your liver close to the tumor in order to spare your remaining healthy liver tissue. A minor hepatectomy is defined as the removal of two or fewer of your liver’s eight segments.