Tumor Is Removed While Liver Outside Body

  1. Tumor Is Removed While Liver Outside Body

    Mon Jul 5, 1:57 PM ET

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Surgeons at the University of Florida recently performed a rare "ex-vivo" liver operation, in which they removed a cancerous tumor from the liver while it was outside the body.

    Doctors then put the liver back in the patient when the tumor was gone.

    The eight-hour operation is thought to be the first time in Florida-and one of only a few times in the country-that doctors have cut away a tumor from a liver outside the body and successfully reimplanted the organ.

    The unidentified patient went home two weeks after the April surgery. While he has had some complications, he is still alive, said Dr. Alan Hemming, director of hepatobiliary surgery and associate professor of surgery in the UF College of Medicine.

    Hemming has performed the surgery in Canada before, but believes the procedure he performed at UF's Shands Hospital is one of the first successful ex-vivo liver surgeries in the United States.

    "The risks involved in this type of surgery are so high that you have to be potentially trying to save someone's life to attempt it," Hemming told The Gainesville Sun for a story Monday.

    The procedure would only be performed when a liver tumor is too difficult to remove, because of how it is affecting the blood vessels in the organ. The liver is taken out of the body and the tumor is removed. Then the doctor must reconstruct the blood vessels to restore the normal blood flow to the organ.

    Putting it back in, the surgeon must connect the blood vessels to those in the patient's body, the most complex part of the surgery.

    "It typically takes two to three hours to remove the liver, two hours to remove the tumor and reconstruct the blood vessels on the back table, and another two hours to re-implant the liver," Hemming said.

    According to information on the procedure from Shands, Hemming is one of only a handful of surgeons worldwide who have performed the out-of-body liver surgery.

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