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Hepatic hemangioma

Definition

A hepatic hemangioma is a liver mass made of widened (dilated) blood vessels. It is not cancerous.

Alternative Names

Liver hemangioma; Hemangioma of the liver; Cavernous hepatic hemangioma; Infantile hemangioendothelioma; Multinodular hepatic hemangiomatosis

Causes

A hepatic hemangioma is the most common type of liver mass that is not caused by cancer. It may be a birth defect.

Hepatic hemangiomas can occur at any time. They are most common in people in their 30s to 50s. Women get these masses more often than men, and the masses are often bigger.

Babies may develop a type of hepatic hemangioma called benign infantile hemangioendothelioma. This is also called multinodular hepatic hemangiomatosis. This is a rare, noncancerous tumor that has been linked to high rates of heart failure and death in infants. Infants are most often diagnosed by the time they are 6 months old.

Symptoms

Some hemangiomas may cause bleeding or interfere with organ function. Most do not produce symptoms. In rare cases, the hemangioma may rupture.

Exams and Tests

In most cases, hepatic hemangioma is not found until medical images are made of the liver for some other reason. If the hemangioma ruptures, the only sign may be an enlarged liver.

Babies with benign infantile hemangioendothelioma may have:

The following tests may be performed:

Treatment

Most of these tumors are treated only if there is ongoing pain.

Treatment for infantile hemangioendothelioma depends on the child's growth and development. The following treatments may be needed:

  • Inserting a material in a blood vessel of the liver to block it (embolization)
  • Tying off (ligation) a liver artery
  • Medicines for heart failure
  • Surgery to remove the tumor

Outlook (Prognosis)

Surgery can cure a tumor in an infant if it is only in one lobe of the liver. Surgery can be done even if the child has heart failure.

Possible Complications

Pregnancy and estrogen-based medicines can cause these tumors to grow.

References

Di Bisceglie AM, Befeler AS. Hepatic tumors and cysts. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 96.

Soares KC, Pawlik TM. The management of liver hemangioma. In: Cameron JL, Cameron AM, eds. Current Surgical Therapy. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:349-354.

Trenor CC, Greene AK. Vascular tumors in childhood. In: Cronenwett JL, Johnston KW, eds. Rutherford's Vascular Surgery. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 70.


Review Date: 4/1/2017
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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