DefinitionA hepactectomy is the surgical removal of the liver.
Diagnosis/PreparationA diagnosis of liver cancer requiring an hepatectomy is obtained with the following procedures:
- Physical examination
- Blood tests
- Computed tomagraphy (CT) scan
- Ultrasound test
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
To prepare a patient for a hepactectomy, clean towels are laid across the patient's face, along the sides, and across the knees. The anterior portion of the chest, the abdomen, and the lower extremities down to the knees are scrubbed with betadine for 10 minutes.
After an hepatectomy, the healing process takes time; the amount of time required to recover varies from patient to patient. Patients are often uncomfortable for the first few days following surgery and they are usually prescribed pain medication. The treating physician or nurse is available to discuss pain management. Patients usually feel very tired or weak for a while. Also, patients may have diarrhea and a feeling of fullness in the abdomen. The health care team closely monitors the patient for bleeding, infection, liver failure, or other problems requiring immediate medical attention.
Patients with chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis are at high risk when an hepatectomy is performed.
There are always risks with any surgery, but a hepatectomy that removes 25–60% of the liver carries more than the average risk. Pain, bleeding, infection, and/or injury to other areas in the abdomen, as well as death, are potential risks. Other risks include postoperative fevers, pneumonia, and urinary tract infection. Patients who undergo any type of abdominal surgery are also at risk to form blood clots in their legs. These blood clots can break free and move through the heart to the lungs. In the lungs, the blood clot may cause a serious problem called pulmonary embolism, a condition usually treated with blood-thinning medication. But in some cases, embolisms can cause death. There are special devices used to keep blood flowing through the legs during surgery to try to prevent clot formation.
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