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Hepatic hemangioma

Definition

A hepatic hemangioma is a liver tumor 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, incidence, and risk factors

A hepatic hemangioma is the most common type of liver tumor 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 tumors more often than men and the tumors 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 usually 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.

Signs and tests

Hepatic hemangioma is usually not found until medical pictures are taken 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
  • Medications for heart failure
  • Surgery to remove the tumor

Expectations (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.

Complications

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

References

DiBisceglie AM, Befeler AS. Tumors and cysts of the liver. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 94.

Roberts LR. Liver and biliary tract tumors. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 202.


Review Date: 4/15/2013
Reviewed By: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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