The liver is the largest gland in the body and is a complex structure made of cells (hepatocytes), arteries, veins and ducts; which are organized all together in such a way as to serve as a center for the processing and production of useful substances in our body, a storage “stocks” center, a center for the removal of toxic substances, a barrier against attackers that can be transmitted through blood from the bowel, as well as a center for the production of fluids useful to our digestion (bile).
In the first 6 months of life, this organ begins to produce blood cells – a function, in which some circumstances, can resume. Unfortunately, in all this centrality, special attention also corresponds to various tumors: in fact, their cells pass through the liver and in doing so some, especially those of intestinal cancer, give rise to tumors known as metastases. In addition to its intense activity and means for purifying blood, toxic agents and viruses can sometimes enter into it and cause chronic alterations, in turn leading to long-term tumors such as hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma.
In such cases, Humanitas responds with a multidisciplinary group that for years and with levels of excellence addresses and often solves the problems of patients who suffer from liver cancer. This group includes hepatologists, oncologists, radiologists, radiological interventionists, radiotherapists, nuclear physicians, anatomical pathologists, and nurses at the Unit of Hepatobiliary surgery.
The Department of Hepatobiliary surgery, headed by Pr. Guido Torzilli, performs over 150 liver resections and over 200 surgeries on primary liver tumors and liver metastases from colon tumours, Surgical therapy is often used, despite developments in medical, interventional and radiological treatments and furthermore, Humanitas find answers to high-profile human and technological advancements for the best possible treatment for each of these patients. However, Hepatobiliary surgery is becoming more and more of a highly complex surgery in its own right. In fact, despite the liver’s well-known ability to regenerate, it can stop working if an excessive portion of it is removed or if the remaining portion cannot function properly.
To avoid such instances, advanced skills are needed and also guiding tools such as Ultrasonography that are at various degrees and essential for success of the treatment. This particular aspect of the Unit of Hepatobiliary surgery has progressively spread internationally and become one of the largest groups in the forefront: in fact, nowadays there are numerous new surgical procedures for the liver, formed and led by a group of surgeons at Humanitas, who ensure the possibility of operating on patients with liver cancer without removing too much healthy tissue and who also guarantee proper functioning of what remains. The Unit also offers the opportunity to patients who might otherwise not be able to receive treatment, to undergo surgical treatment.
The techniques developed by the section of hepatic surgery, which are now progressively spreading in the world, are able to guarantee the preservation of healthy tissue in most patients, as well as reduce the risk of mortality and major complications by less than 1%: In this Unit of Hepatobiliary Surgery, the highest levels of security in the world are offered.
Being an international benchmark for a new type of liver surgery has led the Unit of Hepatobiliary Surgery to facilitate in the dissemination of new techniques among surgeons and further organize annual courses attended by surgeons from all over the world. Furthermore, the Unit of Hepatobiliary Surgery nowadays is responsible for leading numerous clinical studies aimed at producing new advances to the methods introduced by foreign centers such as the University of Tokyo, Juntendo University (Tokyo), Nihon University (Tokyo), the University of Paris, the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, John Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, and the Italian Hospital in Buenos Aires, as well as working with other surgical groups, such as the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, for future partnership projects.