Hepatobiliary and Liver Surgery

UC San Diego Health's multidisciplinary liver surgery team includes hepatobiliary surgeons, radiologists, hepatologists, oncologists and gastroenterologists who are experts in the treatment and management of complex liver and biliary tract disorders. 

Our surgeons have the unique ability to perform the full array of surgical techniques for:

  • Liver cancer
  • Liver cysts 
  • Non-cancerous liver tumors (e.g., focal nodular hyperplasia, adenoma, hemangioma)
  • Cancer of the bile duct system
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer

We offer a comprehensive range of therapies, including:

About Liver Surgery

The most common operation performed on the liver is a resection, or removal of a portion of the liver. A liver resection takes approximately three to five hours and can usually be performed without the need for a blood transfusion.

Facts about liver resections:

  • Up to 80 percent of the liver tissue can be safely removed.
  • The resected liver regenerates to its preoperative size in six to eight weeks. 
  • The hospital stay is about six days and complete recovery occurs in five to six weeks.
  • Liver resections can be used for people who want to donate part of their liver to a loved one during a live donor liver transplant.

The most common indication for liver resection is a cancerous tumor.

Cancerous tumors in the liver are one of the following:

  • Primary: Originated in the liver
  • Metastatic: Originated in another organ and then migrated to the liver. Most metastasized tumors in the liver originate in the colon.

Benign tumors of the liver (such as cyst and hemangioma) are common, do not produce symptoms, and can often be managed successfully with a liver resection. In cases where the tumor is superficial and small in size, resection can be done laparoscopically (with minimal incisions).

If you have a primary liver tumor that cannot be resected, you may be a viable candidate for liver transplantation. Learn more about our Liver Transplant program.

Ex-Vivo Liver Resection

Alan Hemming, MD, is one of few surgeons in the country who performs ex vivo liver surgery. During this procedure, the liver is completely removed from the body, the tumor is cut away and the liver is reconstructed. The tumor-free liver is then reimplanted in the body.

See how this rare surgery saved the life of a 27-year-old military wife.

Appointments and Referrals

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