What Is Liver Calcification?

Patti Kate
Patti Kate
Calcium build-up may be found during pregnancy on an ultrasound.
Calcium build-up may be found during pregnancy on an ultrasound.

Occasionally during a computed tomography (CT) scan, a doctor will find calcium deposits on the liver. This condition is known as liver calcification or hepatic calcification. Calcification on the liver generally indicates calcium has formed in areas affected by past infection or injury, typically to protect the area from further damage. Calcium build-up may also be found during pregnancy on an ultrasound of a fetus.

Certain medications may cause liver calcification.
Certain medications may cause liver calcification.

A calcified liver may be indicative of liver lesions or tumors, although liver calification is not commonly associated with a serious disorder or underlying condition. If, during a scan of the liver, the only irregularity seen is the presence of liver calcification, this is generally not a major cause for concern. Occasionally, medications may also cause calcification in the liver if the body reacts negatively to a drug.

Excessive alcohol consumption may cause liver calcification.
Excessive alcohol consumption may cause liver calcification.

Liver calcification in a newborn may be caused by infection, which may occur in the womb or shortly after birth. Abdominal inflammation may cause calcific liver conditions in newborns due to a rupture of the bowel wall during childbirth. A drainage of fetal stool matter, also known as meconium, may be responsible for infection, leading to calcium build up in areas of the liver. Blood clots forming on the liver that damage surrounding tissue may also cause calcification.

Calcium formations on the liver are known as liver calcifications.
Calcium formations on the liver are known as liver calcifications.

Liver calcification may also be due to excessive alcohol consumption. This occurs when the liver attempts to heal itself from alcohol damage. As a result, an accumulation of calcium is deposited on the liver. In advanced and severe cases, calcification may occur in conjunction with cirrhosis.

Liver disorders may also cause calcification. Cysts or tumors within the liver are a major cause for this build-up. In a benign tumor, lesion, or cyst, there may be no symptoms. The calcification may be detected by ultrasound or CT scan. A biopsy can determine if these growths are cancerous. If benign, there may be no need for treatment and the situation may resolve over time.

Occasionally during a CT scan, a doctor will find calcium deposits on a person's liver.
Occasionally during a CT scan, a doctor will find calcium deposits on a person's liver.

A malignant tumor with liver calcification may require advanced or invasive treatment. Surgery to remove a mass or radiation therapy may be an option for calcification on the liver caused by a malignant tumor. A follow-up course of chemotherapy may also be prescribed.

When a newborn with liver calcification is found to have a liver tumor at birth, this is often a benign mass. Typically, the growth will require surgical removal. In most cases, the infant will require no further medical intervention.

What Are Liver Calcification Symptoms?

Liver calcification may not show signs or symptoms on its own. It is commonly discovered through CT scans or X-rays performed for unrelated health concerns. You may also discover an abnormality in your liver function during a routine blood test.

Calcification is caused by the body’s normal healing response to damage. While the calcification itself may not cause any signs, the cause of the calcification, such as an injury, infection, or certain viruses, may show symptoms.

The most common symptoms of an issue with the liver are:

  • Abdominal pain on the right side
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • Dark urine
  • Pale-colored stool
  • Swelling in the abdomen, legs and ankles
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Itchy skin

Learning more about specific liver conditions and the symptoms associated with each may help identify liver calcification.

Infections

Often liver calcification is considered harmless.
Often liver calcification is considered harmless.

Several viral infections can harm the liver. Hepatitis is the most common infection of the liver. Hepatitis A is a virus spread by eating or drinking something contaminated with the feces of an infected person. Hepatitis B is caused by a virus that is spread by infected blood. Similarly, hepatitis C is spread through infected blood and body fluids. Hepatitis C can lead to severe liver damage.

In newborns, liver calcification can be caused by an infection associated with meconium peritonitis, a rupture of the bowels in the uterus.

Conditions Caused by Toxins

Calcification of the liver may be spotted on an ultrasound.
Calcification of the liver may be spotted on an ultrasound.

The liver helps the body to filter out poisons and toxins. Heavy alcohol and drug use can damage the liver when removing toxic substances, and the damage can lead to fatty liver disease. This disease does not usually present signs or symptoms. However, when it does, you may feel fatigued or have abdominal pain on the right side. Obesity and a diet with high fats can increase the risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Damage to the liver can eventually lead to cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is scarring in the liver that prevents healthy liver functions. Like other liver conditions, cirrhosis is associated with fatigue, abdominal pain, bloating, unintended weight loss, and jaundice. In a small number of cases, cirrhosis can lead to liver cancer.

Early treatment of these conditions can help to prevent further liver damage.

Is Liver Calcification Cancerous?

Most liver calcification is noncancerous. However, doctors must investigate cancer as a cause to rule it out. If a cancerous, malignant tumor is untreated, calcium deposits sometimes form in the surrounding area.

In this case, doctors will order a biopsy to be performed on the liver to collect a sample of the calcified tissue. This tissue will be tested in a laboratory for the presence of cancer cells. The results of the testing will determine if the liver calcification is cancerous or benign.

Signs and Symptoms of Liver Cancer

The most common signs of liver cancer are:

  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Enlarged liver (fullness on the right side of the abdomen)
  • Enlarged spleen (fullness on the left side of the abdomen)
  • Bloating or swelling in the abdomen
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Itchy skin

If you have concerns about these symptoms, it is important to contact your doctor right away.

How To Cure Liver Calcification

Treating liver calcification requires treating the underlying condition that is causing the calcification. Treatment will vary depending on the exact cause. It is also important to consider if the calcification causes any complications. Small calcium deposits are not likely to affect liver function. Large deposits, however, may significantly impact the function of the liver or create other health concerns.

In most cases of calcification, there is no need for treatment. Calcification due to an infection or disease has likely caused permanent damage to the liver. The calcification is not reversible. Most cases of liver calcification do not lead to pain or complications. In such a case, your doctor will continue to monitor your calcium deposits during future appointments.

However, there are ways to relieve pain if it is present. There are also steps you can take to prevent calcification from worsening. Limiting or avoiding alcohol is beneficial for pain and prevention. If you are experiencing pain, you can take pain relief medication to manage it. Becoming more physically active and eating fewer fatty foods can help to improve your liver function and prevent further damage to the organ.

Liver calcification associated with a cancerous tumor will likely be treated with surgery. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may also be used to treat cancer.

Discussion Comments

anon997117

My daughter had sticthes as she would call it, but she had gastritis pain and bloating and they decided to do a CT in 2012 and it was detected. She had an ultrasound done in 2010 and nothing was detected then. I wonder if an ultrasound could have detected it if she had it then in 2010. Her blood tests were always OK.

anon993851

I recently found out I have Calcified granulomas thoughout my entire liver. I'm in constant terrible pain in my upper right quadren and have lost over 70 pounds in the last seven months. I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2012. I'm going into see my Oncologist next week. I pray they investigate and help me. I'm so sick, sometimes I'm very yellow. I'm hoping for it to not be the worst. Very scared.

anon989916

@Anon 311806: Did the tablet help to remove calcification, what was name of the tablet, as well as the specialist called? Can calcification disappear? My daughter was not sent to the specialist. Read previous post 360225. It was detected on a CT scan in 2012, followed with a clear MRI. The 2010 ultrasound was clear.

Why were you sent for a biopsy? She had pains in the lower abdomen and had a blood test. Her vomit was clear, but slightly frothy, she could not move. She went to the ER and they did blood tests, and said her AST was 40, ALT was 50, with moderate blood in the urine test. All other readings were normal CRP/Lipase, FBC, and all the rest of LFT was clear. She also asked to do a scan and is waiting for results. I just wanted to know how they found your calcification.

Artyest: My daughter said she got stitches on and off and ultrasound came clear2010 only way to detect it is through a CT scan God bless you.

anon942279

I am 33 weeks pregnant and my unborn baby has a 5.1mm liver calcification that was discovered at 20 weeks. The doctors are monitoring me every few weeks to determine if the calcification is getting bigger (thank goodness, it's not). They said there is nothing to be worried about, but I'm still concerned.

anon360225

My 23 year old daughter was diagnosed with patch liver calcification. She had a scan done in 2010, and nothing was seen. Then in 2012, she had a CT scan done because she was having pains in her stomach above her navel. That's when they detected with patchy liver calcification. She takes nurofen, as well as Zyrtec, or Claritin for hay fever. The doctor did an MRI and said that everything seems normal and that calcification is better seen on a CT. Hers were found because of the stomach cramps and the doctor wanted her to do an abdominal scan. That's how it was detected. She had another CT a year later and nothing has changed, so she said she can do one in two years. --hjg

anon311806

I had an ultrasound followed by a liver biopsy, and my specialist has suggested a course of tablets for six months (three to be taken in the morning every day). The drug prescribed can be used to dissolve gallstones (which I don't have), but I was also recently informed that it could be used for the calcification of the liver. I don't drink, regularly or otherwise, once in a blue moon really, and although I have tattoos, I took proper care of them after they were done. I was also tested for Hepatitis, which came back negative.

I appear to be something of a medical mystery to my doctor and/or specialist, but I don't feel special. I just want to be discharged so I can get on with life! I'm a 32 year-old female.

Esther11

Though liver calcifications are serious business, it's important to remember that the liver can also regenerate itself really well. My father had cancer and it spread to his liver. The doctors operated and cut out quite a bit of the cancerous liver. In time, it regenerated completely. How cool is that?

Of course, you shouldn't go out and damage your liver because there's only so much it can regenerate (from what I understand) but still, a cool function of the body.

B707

My uncle has liver calcification, and now that he knows how important the liver is for good health, he always talks about how he wishes he had been paying attention to some of the mistakes he made. It's just so sad that many of the risk factors that lead to liver calcification can be easily prevented.

For example, just following basic hygiene rules when getting a tattoo or body piercing can help out a ton (if you get one at all). Also, everybody knows that sharing drug needles is bad in general, but it's also really risky for your liver.

And of course, drinking alcohol in excess is the big bad -- so not a good idea for liver health.

My uncle drank way too much and now he is a very sick man. So take care of yourself, everybody -- and remember, even little things can have a huge impact on your health.

Artyest

I had no idea there were so many different causes of calcification of the liver! I knew that drinking caused liver problems, but how frightening that you can also get it from a cyst or tumor!

So what exactly are the symptoms of liver calcification? Is there any way that you can sort of catch it as it happens, or what?

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    • Calcium build-up may be found during pregnancy on an ultrasound.
      By: photographmd
      Calcium build-up may be found during pregnancy on an ultrasound.
    • Certain medications may cause liver calcification.
      By: Gennadiy Poznyakov
      Certain medications may cause liver calcification.
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      Excessive alcohol consumption may cause liver calcification.
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      Calcium formations on the liver are known as liver calcifications.
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      Occasionally during a CT scan, a doctor will find calcium deposits on a person's liver.
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      Often liver calcification is considered harmless.
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      Calcification of the liver may be spotted on an ultrasound.