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Liver Resection: Before Your Surgery

Abdominal organs

What is a liver resection?

Liver resection is surgery to remove a piece of the liver. Up to one-half of your liver can be removed if the rest of it is healthy. The doctor makes a cut (incision) in your belly to take out part of the liver. If the doctor removes the right side of your liver, he or she will also remove your gallbladder.

You will probably stay in the hospital for 5 to 14 days after surgery. You will need to take it easy for 4 to 8 weeks at home.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How do you prepare for surgery?

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own. For your safety, you should not drive until you are no longer taking pain medicines and you can move and react easily.
  • Arrange for extra help at home after surgery, especially if you live alone or provide care for another person.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take, including any vitamins and supplements. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • Before your surgery, you will speak with an anesthesia provider to discuss your anesthetic options, including the risks, benefits, and alternatives to each. This may be on the phone or in person.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.
  • You may need to empty your bowels with an enema or laxative. Your doctor will tell you how to do this.

Taking care of yourself before surgery

  • Build healthy habits into your life. Changes are best made several weeks before surgery, since your body may react to sudden changes in your habits. Talk to your doctor about any changes you need to make.
    • Stay as active as you can.
    • Eat a healthy diet.
    • Cut back or quit alcohol and tobacco. If you drink a lot of alcohol, talk to your healthcare provider about helping you cut down the amount you drink.

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.
  • Leave your valuables at home.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • Before surgery you will be asked to repeat your full name, what surgery you are having, and what part of your body is being operated on. The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • A small tube (IV) will be placed in a vein, to give you fluids and medicine to help you relax. Because of the combination of medicines given to keep you comfortable, you may not remember much about the operating room.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You will be asleep during the surgery.
  • The surgery will take 2 to 5 hours.
  • As you wake up in the recovery room, the nurse will check to be sure you are stable and comfortable. It is important for you to tell your doctor and nurse how you feel and ask questions about any concerns you may have.
  • You may have a small tube coming out of your belly for a few days to drain fluids.
  • You may have a thin plastic tube in your nose that goes down the back of your throat into your stomach. This drains stomach juices. It is usually removed several days after surgery.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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