The presence of communicating veins between adjacent hepatic veins may allow parenchyma-sparing hepatectomy. Taking advantage of improvements in ultrasound technology, such as e-flow modality, a study of the presence of communicating veins was conducted in patients with hepatic tumours at the caval confluence.


Consecutive patients undergoing surgery between October 2007 and December 2009 for hepatic tumours in contact with or invading a hepatic vein at its caval confluence were included. Communicating vein mapping by means of e-flow intraoperative ultrasonography (EF-IOUS) was carried out.


A total of 20 patients were enrolled. Communicating veins between adjacent hepatic veins or with the inferior vena cava were detected in 16 patients. The median number of communicating veins was 1 (range 0–5). The total number of lesions removed was 126 (range 1–46). In 11 of 12 patients requiring resection of a hepatic vein, communicating veins enabled a parenchyma-sparing procedure to be performed. No patient had a formal major hepatectomy. There was no postoperative mortality or major morbidity.


EF-IOUS estimation of the frequency of communicating veins between adjacent hepatic veins suggests that such veins are common. This may facilitate parenchyma-sparing procedures in patients with hepatic tumours encroaching on major hepatic veins. Copyright © 2010 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.