Role of quantification of hepatic steatosis and future remnant volume in predicting hepatic dysfunction and complications after liver resection for colorectal metastases: a pilot study

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Accurate prediction of safe remnant liver volume to minimize complications following liver resection remains challenging. The aim of this study was to assess whether quantification of steatosis improved the predictive value of preoperative volumetric analysis.


Thirty patients undergoing planned right or extended right hemi-hepatectomy for colorectal metastases were recruited prospectively. Magnetic resonance imaging was used to assess the level of hepatic steatosis and future remnant liver volume. These data were correlated with data on postoperative hepatic insufficiency, complications and hospital stay. Correlations of remnant percentage, remnant mass to patient mass and remnant mass to body surface area with and without steatosis measurements were assessed.


In 10 of the 30 patients the planned liver resection was altered. Moderate–severe postoperative hepatic dysfunction was seen in 17 patients. Complications arose in 14 patients. The median level of steatosis was 3.8% (range: 1.2–17.6%), but was higher in patients (n= 10) who received preoperative chemotherapy (P= 0.124), in whom the median level was 4.8% (range: 1.5–17.6%). The strongest correlation was that of remnant liver mass to patient mass (r= 0.77, P < 0.001). However, the addition of steatosis quantification did not improve this correlation (r= 0.76, P < 0.001).


This is the first study to combine volumetric with steatosis quantifications. No significant benefit was seen in this small pilot. However, these techniques may be useful in operative planning, particularly in patients receiving preoperative chemotherapy.

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