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What is the Falciform Ligament?

By Christine Hudson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Ligaments are stretchy fibrous tissues which hold parts of the body together or in place. The falciform ligament is located near the liver and is a broad and thin bean- or sickle-shaped ligament tissue. Its purpose is to help hold the liver in place inside the body. It connects to the diaphragm and rectus walls, ensuring that the liver stays in its proper place. This ligament is one that is left over from the ventral mesentery, which helps to form the diaphragm during fetal development.

The falciform ligament can be affected by some conditions, such as portal hypertension, which involves high blood pressure in the portal vein. The portal vein runs through the abdomen and helps to drain blood from the intestines and spleen into the liver. When this vein experiences increased blood pressure, it can cause the falciform ligament to provide an outlet for the blood, which can result in bruising around the belly area. This is an improper route for the blood and may cause further complications in the body. Common treatments for this condition may include medications to lower the high blood pressure and thin out the blood.

This ligament also commonly plays a role in helping to determine if a patient might be suffering from pneumoperitoneum, a condition in which air or another gas has entered into the abdominal cavity. It has been shown via an x-ray that the ligament can sometimes show signs of bulging, warping, or displacement if a patient has this condition. This sign is extremely useful for doctors, as it can help to ensure early discovery of the condition, which can mean an easier and less costly treatment for the patient.

In extremely rare cases, a cyst may develop on the ligament, resulting in extreme pain in the upper abdomen. No one is sure why these cysts might form, partially because they are rare, which makes it difficult to perform widespread tests. The treatment for most of the falciform ligament cysts is surgical removal, as these cysts are generally resistant to any other form of treatment.

Despite the role the falciform ligament plays in working to keep the liver attached and in place, conditions arising from this ligament are fairly rare. It is one of the few examples of a part of the body that serves a useful function with little risk of causing inconvenience. Those conditions that do arise are usually a reaction to other ailments and are normally easy to treat.

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Discussion Comments

By strawCake — On Jul 30, 2011

@JaneAir - I don't think conditions of the falciform ligament are very common at all, but it's always good to be aware.

A good friend of mine is a radiology technician and I'm going to ask her if she's ever seen this on an x-ray. I know she sees a lot of broken bones and stuff like that but I don't know if she's ever seen a damaged falciform ligament before.

By JaneAir — On Jul 29, 2011

I had no idea high blood pressure could cause something like this! My father-in-law suffers from high blood pressure, but luckily he's already on medication.

I think I may still tell him to watch out for bruising on his abdomen though. I can imagine someone might overlook that symptom at first. I know bleeding in the falciform ligament probably wouldn't be my first thought if I had a bruise on my stomach!

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