Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

A liver hemangioma is a benign tumor caused due to tangled blood vessels in the liver. It is also known as cavernous hemangioma or hepatic hemangioma. It usually does not cause any signs or symptoms and therefore does not require any treatment. It is not a life threatening condition and with proper treatment even the large hemangiomas can be managed without further complications.

They usually occur as a single mass in the liver but sometimes they can be multiple in number and lead to significant signs and symptoms. They affect women more than men, usually in the age group of 30-50 years. It mostly affects adults but very rarely it can occur in infants as well that may be life threatening in them. They are usually small in size ranging around 4 centimeters or 1.5 inches approximately in diameter but sometimes they may become unusually large (more than 10 centimeters) in size.

Can Liver Hemangioma Go Away?

In case of small hemangiomas your doctor will advise you to leave them as it is without any treatment. However, when they become large in size and multiple in number, they will require treatment. With appropriate care and treatment they can go away.

The treatment options available to ease the symptoms and complications are many and the treatment option depends on the size and location of the tumor along with the patients overall health status.

A surgery to remove the liver hemangioma may be performed if the tumor can be easily separated from the liver. In other cases where the tumor is adherent to the liver, a part of liver along with the hemangioma needs to be removed. Steroid therapy is also given to shrink the size of tumor.

The other procedures include restricting the blood flow to the liver hemangioma. Since the hemangioma grows when adequate blood supply is present, it is necessary to cut off the blood supply. This can be done by procedures such as hepatic artery ligation in which the main artery supplying the hemangioma is ligated or tied off that result in shrinking of the tumor and destruction of tumor cells. Another method is arterial embolization in which the medication is injected into the main artery to block it so that there is restriction of blood supply to the hemangioma. The surrounding liver remains healthy as its blood supply is not compromised and it draws blood from nearby vessels.
In very rare cases where all the other methods of liver hemangioma treatment have failed, a liver transplant may be necessary to replace the patients liver with the donors healthy liver. It is mostly required in cases of a very large hemangioma or multiple hemangiomas in the liver.

A small liver hemangioma never causes any symptoms but a large one can lead to abdominal pain in the right upper quadrant of abdomen, nausea, vomiting and feeling of fullness even after taking small meals.

The exact cause of liver hemangiomas remain unclear, however they are known to be hereditary i.e they run in families. The pregnant women are at a greater risk of developing liver hemangiomas due to the secretion of hormone estrogen that triggers the growth of hemangiomas. Also the use of birth control pills may put you at a risk of developing liver hemangiomas. Women who are undergoing hormone replace therapy for menopausal symptoms are more likely to be diagnosed with a liver hemangioma. It is necessary for a pregnant women who have been diagnosed with liver hemangioma to talk to their doctor about the risks and complications that she might encounter during her pregnancy.

Diagnosis of Liver Hemangioma

A person who has liver hemangioma does not really know they have it since most of the times it is asymptomatic. It is during the tests and procedures for some other medical conditions that they are accidentally diagnosed. The imaging techniques during which they are diagnosed are an ultrasound, CT scan and MRI. Since these imaging tests give clear pictures of the organs and their surrounding structures, they are able to identify the hemangiomas.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: September 24, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We'll help you live each day to the healthiest