The liver is an unique organ in that it can regrow (hypertrophy) after a section of it has been removed. However, in order for this regrowth to occur, a certain amount of the liver must be left behind after surgery. To speed this process up, portal vein embolization can be used to start the regrowth process prior to the surgery.
During the procedure, a needle is placed percutaneously (through the skin) into the liver. After that, the Interventional Radiologist will embolize or block off the blood vessels to the section of the liver that will be cut out. This will “trick” the liver into regenerating the other side of the liver which will remain after the surgery.
After several weeks, the side of the liver that was not blocked off should have grown enough to where there is a suitable amount available following surgery.