Can you live with half a liver

Patient

Q: I have recently discovered distant family member has been in hospital with liver problems. His whole body has turned yellow and is soon going for an operation to remove half his liver. Unfortunately his wife and I have had a disagreement and I cannot see him bor can I get any information about him. No one I ask knows anything about it and I have been researching this for many days and nights but I have had no joy. Also the patient is 68 and I am extremely worried about him. Yours Sincereley

Doctor

A:   I understand your concern about liver surgery.  The procedure that your relative is having is called Partial Hepatectomy , and means that a part of his liver is going to be removed. This usually is performed when tumors are found in the liver and are localized and removable.
After a hepatectomy, the healing process takes time; the amount of time required to recover varies from patient to patient. There are always risks with any surgery, but a hepatectomy that removes 25–60% of the liver carries more than the average risk.
A patient can live with half a liver however there are also risks that are specific only to liver surgery. During the preoperative evaluation, the treatment team tries to evaluate the patient's liver so that they can decide what piece can safely be removed. Removal of a portion of the liver may cause the remaining liver to work poorly for a short period of time. The remaining part of the liver will begin to grow back within a few weeks and will improve. However, a patient may develop liver failure.

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