A hepatic hemangioma is a liver mass made of widened (dilated) blood vessels. It is not cancerous.
Liver hemangioma; Hemangioma of the liver; Cavernous hepatic hemangioma; Infantile hemangioendothelioma; Multinodular hepatic hemangiomatosis
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.
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:
- Blood tests
- CT scan of the liver
- Hepatic angiogram
- Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)
- Ultrasound of the abdomen
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
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.
Pregnancy and estrogen-based medicines can cause these tumors to grow.
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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.
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.