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Half of liver removed to save 60-year-old woman from cancer

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SAVED: Mary (left) with surgical gastroenterologist S. Paulvannan after the surgery.
SAVED: Mary (left) with surgical gastroenterologist S. Paulvannan after the surgery.

Special Correspondent

In a complex eight-hour surgery at Kovai Medical Center and Hospital

COIMBATORE: In a complex eight-hour surgery at Kovai Medical Center and Hospital (KMCH) here, one half of the liver of a 60-year-old woman was removed to save her from cancer.

Surgical gastroenterologist S. Paulvannan, who performed the surgery, said Mary from Udhagamandalam had been suffering from jaundice, poor appetite and itching and had taken some native treatment for a few months. Her family doctor had referred to the KMCH after basic blood tests revealed an obstructive form of jaundice.

Various blood tests, computed tomography scanning, magnetic resonance imaging and laparoscopic assessment confirmed cancer at the junction of the right and left halves of the liver.

Dr. Paulvannan said in a release that tumours in either half of the liver was easy to remove, but the one at the junction continued to be a major challenge to surgeon across the world. The reasons were that the cancer would be at an advanced stage when detected and its proximity to important blood vessels.

Ms. Mary was suffering from severe jaundice and the liver was not functioning well. The tumour also affected the main branch of the portal vein to the liver.

Initially, a tube was put into the liver and across the cancer to allow the bile to drain. Measures were taken to improve Ms. Mary’s nutritional status and general condition. All these helped in bringing the jaundice down and improving the liver functions.

Then, the left half of the liver, bile ducts with cancer, gallbladder, lymph nodes and the affected portal vein were removed. Dr. Paulvannan said this surgery was complex because it involved major risks such as infection, bleeding, total liver failure and even death.

Chairman of the hospital Nalla G. Palaniswami such types of cancer in the liver could be cured if diagnosed early and managed with the involvement of doctors from various specialities. Patients with symptoms of jaundice must consult their family doctor and undergo blood tests and ultra sound scan. If any problem was detected, they must be referred to tertiary referral hospitals where all facilities for advanced medical care were available, he said.

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