Surgical relevance of anatomic variations of the right hepatic vein

World J Transplant. 2021 Jun 18;11(6):231-243. doi: 10.5500/wjt.v11.i6.231.


Background: Variations in the anatomy of hepatic veins are of interest to transplant surgeons, interventional radiologists, and other medical practitioners who treat liver diseases. The drainage patterns of the right hepatic veins (RHVs) are particularly relevant to transplantation services.

Aim: The aim was to identify variations of the patterns of venous drainage from the right side of the liver. To the best of our knowledge, there have been no reports on RHV variations in in a Caribbean population.

Methods: Two radiologists independently reviewed 230 contrast-enhanced computed tomography scans performed in 1 year at a hepatobiliary referral center. Venous outflow patterns were observed and RHV variants were described as: (1) Tributaries of the RHV; (2) Variations at the hepatocaval junction (HCJ); and (3) Accessory RHVs.

Results: A total of 118 scans met the inclusion criteria. Only 39% of the scans found conventional anatomy of the main hepatic veins. Accessory RHVs were present 49.2% and included a well-defined inferior RHV draining segment VI (45%) and a middle RHV (4%). At the HCJ, 83 of the 118 (70.3%) had a superior RHV that received no tributaries within 1 cm of the junction (Nakamura and Tsuzuki type I). In 35 individuals (29.7%) there was a short superior RHV with at least one variant tributary. According to the Nakamura and Tsuzuki classification, there were 24 type II variants (20.3%), six type III variants (5.1%) and, five type IV variants (4.2%).

Conclusion: There was significant variation in RHV patterns in this population, each with important relevance to liver surgery. Interventional radiologists and hepatobiliary surgeons practicing in the Caribbean must be cognizant of these differences in order to minimize morbidity during invasive procedures.

Keywords: Anomaly; Hepatic; Liver; Variant; Vein; Venous, Drainage, Vena cava.