Liver Hemangioma

Liver hemangioma is a benign tumor of blood vessels in the liver. Read on for liver hemangioma causes, symptoms and treatment...
There can be many conditions that could lead to the formation of a lump or a small swelling. The diagnosis of the condition will depend on the nature of the swelling - sometimes it may be due to the accumulation of ganglions (ganglion cyst), fibrous tissue (fibroid cysts or fibromas), etc. When there is a small swelling or a tumor due to the accumulation of blood vessels, then it is known as a hemangioma. When this kind of a non-cancerous and benign mass is seen in the liver, then it is known as liver hemangioma or hepatic hemangioma. Given below are the various causes, symptoms and treatment options for this condition.

There are no known definitive causes of liver hemangioma. Some doctors believe that a hemangioma may be congenital, that is, present since birth. However, although the exact cause has not been found yet, it is said that there are many risk factors that could be contributory in nature. These include women who are in their thirties. Furthermore, it is said that pregnant women may show signs and symptoms of this condition at this stage because it is said that estrogen, which is a female hormone, may be responsible for aiding in capillary and hemangioma proliferation. Also, women who have been in hormone replacement therapy may be at a risk of developing hepatic hemangioma.

As mentioned earlier, a hepatic hemangioma is usually a benign mass that is a collection of blood vessels which is less than two inches in diameter. Hence, there are rarely any liver hemangioma symptoms seen. This is the reason why more often than not, this condition is actually diagnosed accidentally during a routine check up or when a person complains of abdominal pain that may have its root cause in some other organ. However, if due to some unexplained reason, the hemangioma increases in size, then, it could lead to liver hemangioma pain, which may be due to the growth pressing on the adjacent structures and cells. There may also be other symptoms like pain on the right side of the body, feeling of fullness after eating a small amount of food, nausea, vomiting, etc.

As mentioned earlier, a person rarely needs to visit the doctor for treatment of liver hemangioma because this condition is usually asymptomatic. However, with the help of a gastroenterologist or a hepatologist, this condition could be diagnosed and a subsequent treatment plan can be chalked out. First, a detailed history will be taken of the patient to check for any kind of drugs or medications that could be aggravating this condition. However, once a diagnosis of liver hemangioma is made with the help of an ultrasound or a CT scan, then the doctor may adopt the wait and watch policy and simply ask you to come for regular follow ups to check for the pattern of growth of the hemangioma. This will especially be the case in asymptomatic patients.

However, if the hemangioma, at the time of the diagnosis is large and pushing on adjacent structures, then the person could require surgical intervention. If the hemangioma is small and can easily be separated and removed from the other healthy cells of the liver, then the surgeon may opt for the surgical removal of the liver hemangioma. However, if the hemangioma is closely connected to the adjacent structures, then artery ligation or embolization may be resorted to, rather than relying on the symptoms and removal of hepatic hemangioma. In very, very rare cases, a liver transplant or radiation therapy may be required to deal with the hepatic hemangioma. In the end, the treatment plan will depend on the location, size and severity of symptoms of the liver hemangioma in adults.

Although a liver hemangioma is a relatively mild condition and does not cause very alarming symptoms, this condition, if diagnosed, needs to be kept an eye on. This is because there are slight chances that women who are diagnosed with a liver hemangioma could end up having complications during their pregnancy. Hence, to prevent any such concerns, it is always better to err on the side of caution and get regular check ups to identify such conditions at the earliest.
By Dr. Sumaiya Khan
Last Updated: 9/28/2011
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