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What is a Liver Hemangioma?

By J.M. Willhite
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Liver hemangioma is a benign liver condition that can cause a range of signs and symptoms and, in some cases, affect surrounding organs. Individuals with this condition generally remain asymptomatic, meaning they experience no discernible symptoms. Generally, individuals with a liver hemangioma require no treatment. The presentation of signs and symptoms can necessitate surgery to remove the hemangioma.

There is no known, definitive cause for the malformation of blood vessels that contribute to the development of of this condition. According to some medical organizations, such as the Mayo Clinic, it has been asserted that liver hemangiomas may actually be a condition an individual is born with, meaning it is congenital. A hemangioma may originate with one or multiple vessels that form a mass that either remains small or matures to induce symptoms and place pressure on surrounding abdominal organs.

Generally, this condition will remain undiagnosed unless it's discovered during the administration of diagnostic tests or it induces symptoms. Symptomatic individuals will generally undergo a battery of imaging tests that can include a computerized tomography (CT) and ultrasound. Other diagnostic testing that may reveal the presence of this condition may include a single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

When the hemangioma matures and places pressure on surrounding abdominal organs, a variety of signs and symptoms may develop. It is not uncommon for individuals to develop abdominal discomfort that is restricted to the right side or to experience a loss of appetite. After eating, an individual with a liver hemangioma may become nauseous and vomit. The pressure the mass places on the liver and surrounding organs may cause one to feel prematurely full, leading to a reduction in one’s food intake, which may contribute to unintended weight loss.

Most hemangiomas require no treatment. It is only when the hemangioma grows that it may induce signs and symptoms. Treatment is generally dependent on the severity of the symptom presentation and the size of the mass.

The growth of a hemangioma is dependent on blood supply, which can jeopardize liver health. Hemangiomas that remain unattached to liver tissue may be easily removed with surgery. If the mass is affixed to the liver tissue, a portion of the liver may need to be removed with the mass. Severe presentations of very large or multiple hemangiomas may necessitate liver transplantation if traditional treatment or surgery is not feasible.

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