Abstract Background Resection of a large hepatocellular carcinoma in the right liver or a small tumor located at the superior and posterior part of the right liver requires extensive hepatic mobilization. A thoracoabdominal approach might facilitate hepatic resection in such situations, but the safety and benefits of this approach remain unclear. Study design A retrospective study based on a prospectively collected database of 488 patients was performed to evaluate the perioperative outcomes of right-sided hepatic resection for hepatocellular carcinoma using the thoracoabdominal approach (n = 92) in comparison with the conventional abdominal approach (n = 396). Results The two groups were comparable in age, comorbid illnesses, liver function, tumor size, and underlying cirrhosis. There were more extended right hepatectomies in the thoracoabdominal approach group than in the abdominal approach group, but the difference was not significant (33.7% versus 26.0%, p = 0.14). A significantly higher proportion of patients in the thoracoabdominal approach group did not require blood transfusion compared with the abdominal approach group (66.3% versus 54.8%, p = 0.04). The operating time for the former group was longer (median 450 min versus 360 min, p < 0.001). There were no significant differences in hospital stay (median 12.5 days versus 13.0 days, p = 0.82), overall morbidity (41.3% versus 38.6%, p = 0.64), or hospital mortality (4.3% versus 7.3%, p = 0.37) between the two groups. Conclusions The thoracoabdominal approach is a safe operative approach that can facilitate resection of massive tumors in the right liver or tumors involving segments 7 and 8 without increased morbidity.