Dynamics of normal and injured human liver regeneration after hepatectomy as assessed on the basis of computed tomography and liver function

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Abstract

We compared liver volume and function kinetics after partial hepatectomy according to extent of resection and severity of coexisting liver disease in 57 adults with uneventful postoperative courses. Liver volume and massiveness of resection, or resection rate, were estimated on computed tomography. Patients were categorized into three groups on the basis of reaction rate: small (<30%), medium (30%-50%) and large (>50%). The regenerative patterns of normal livers in the medium and large groups consisted of three phases: a rapid increase during the first month, some decrease in the second month and a final, slower increase. This contrasted with the pattern of injured livers with chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis, which generally showed a phase of less rapid, gradual increase. The regeneration rate (volume gain, cm3/day) during the first month was found to be proportional to resection rate in the presence or absence of liver disease. Normal livers regenerated at least twice as rapidly as injured livers in patients with comparable resection rates. Normal livers reached plateau levels within 1 to 2 mo regardless of the massiveness of resection, whereas regeneration took 3 to 5 mo in injured livers. Liver function (albumin, bilirubin) recovered concomitantly with liver volume in the medium group, whereas in the large group they generally returned to their initial values behind volume restoration, particularly in cirrhotic patients. In conclusion, human liver regeneration is strongly influenced by the massiveness of the resection and presence of coexisting liver disease. However, we found that some cirrhotic livers can regenerate, albeit more slowly and less completely, as long as the extent of hepatectomy remains within safe functional limits. (HEPATOLOGY 1993;18:79–85).

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