, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 593-605
Date: 18 Nov 2012

New Paradigms in Post-hepatectomy Liver Failure

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Liver failure after hepatectomy remains the most feared postoperative complication. Many risk factors are already known, related to patient’s comorbidities, underlying liver disease, received treatments and type of resection. Preoperative assessment of functional liver reserve must be a priority for the surgeon.


Physiopathology of post-hepatectomy liver failure is not comparable to fulminant liver failure. Liver regeneration is an early phenomenon whose cellular mechanisms are beginning to be elucidated and allowing most of the time to quickly recover a functional organ. In some cases, microscopic and macroscopic disorganization appears. The hepatocyte hyperproliferation and the asynchronism between hepatocytes and non-hepatocyte cells mitosis probably play a major role in this pathogenesis.


Many peri- or intra-operative techniques try to prevent the occurrence of this potentially lethal complication, but a better understanding of involved mechanisms might help to completely avoid it, or even to extend the possibilities of resection.


Future prevention and management may include pharmacological slowing of proliferation, drug or physical modulation of portal flow to reduce shear–stress, stem cells or immortalized hepatocytes injection, and liver bioreactors. Everything must be done to avoid the need for transplantation, which remains today the most efficient treatment of liver failure.