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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


Horizontal Liver Cleft: A Rare Anatomic Variant

Congenital defects / diseases, Educational Purpose (only if useful for a systematic review or synthesis)

Yong Han Ting, Kian Soon Lim

Singapore Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore, Singapore

Am J Case Rep 2014; 15:401-403

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.892274

Available online:

Published: 2014-09-20


Background: Improvements in hepatobiliary surgical techniques, with increased usage of segmental and subsegmental resection, make accurate preoperative radiological assessment delineation of the liver segments ever more crucial. Conventionally, this is done by drawing imaginary straight planes along the portal and hepatic veins. We herein report a rare case of a horizontal cleft between the superior and inferior liver segments seen on CT.
Case Report: A 74-year-old female patient with a known medical history of ovarian cancer with peritoneal metastasis and retroperitoneal lymphadenopathy was referred to our department for CT to assess disease response after treatment. On contrast-enhanced CT, apart from the ovarian cancer, the liver had a smooth, well-defined horizontally orientated cleft that broadly divided the organ into 2 halves. The cleft contained the right and left main portal veins, and consequently had a curved down-sloping configuration accommodating the curved course of these veins. This liver cleft was present from an earlier CT study performed 3 years ago, and there was no history of preceding liver surgery.
Conclusions: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of the anomaly of a horizontal liver cleft, which may be attributed to early cessation of the embryological formation of the liver. This liver cleft also illustrates the difficulties in liver segmentation using Couinaud’s classification.

Keywords: Diagnosis, Differential, Hepatic Veins - radiography, Imaging, Three-Dimensional, Liver - blood supply, Liver Diseases - radiography, Phlebography, Portal Vein - radiography, Tomography, X-Ray Computed