Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

A haemangioma is an extra collection of blood vessels in the body. People usually recognize them as birthmarks, and they are also known as vascular tumors. These are the most common birthmarks in children. They are present at the time of birth or may appear anywhere between four weeks to six months after birth. These are benign growths, meaning that they are non-cancerous. They are usually harmless and do not require any intervention as such. Interference is needed only if these growths disturb the normal functioning of the organs.

Haemangiomas occur on the internal organs as well. They may develop on liver, kidneys, spleen and lungs too. The haemangioma on the liver is known as hepatic haemangioma.

Liver Haemangiomas or Hepatic Haemangiomas

Liver haemangioma is a non-cancerous growth of blood vessels in the liver. These are an extra group of blood vessels that come together to form a cluster. These growths are non-cancerous. They are also known as cavernous haemangiomas.

What Causes Liver Haemangioma?

The cause of liver haemangioma is yet unknown. Some speculate that a history running in the family related to haemangiomas may be responsible for causing it. Some others debate that there is genetic factor behind it. Whereas, many times they just appear with no significant history behind them. Hence, it is very difficult to conclude with any specific causes for its development. There is no particular set of reasons or causes for them to be developing and hence, it is not possible to prevent it.

If the haemangioma on the liver is considerably small, it will usually not cause any disturbing signs or symptoms in most cases. It happens very rarely that, if the haemangioma grows to be large, it may create several symptoms like pain or discomfort in the abdomen, bloating, a feeling of fullness even after eating very less quantities, anorexia, loss of appetite and nausea, and even vomiting at times. But these symptoms may appear even if there is some other underlying condition present. Hence, these are not specific symptoms for haemangiomas.

Very rarely, it may happen that if a haemangioma is large, it may break, bleed or rupture. This may cause bleeding or blood clots, or sometimes lead to organ failure, or very rarely heart failure also.

Age might be a factor when it comes to the occurrence of signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms are more seen in people aged 30 years and above. Also, it is more commonly seen in women than in men. Hormone estrogen is likely to be responsible for haemangioma growth. Hence, the women who have been pregnant in the past at least once are more likely to present with symptoms, than those who have been non-pregnant.

In those women, who have been already diagnosed with liver haemangioma, if they become pregnant again, they may face a risk of developing some symptoms and complications. As estrogen level is increased during pregnancy, it may cause an already existing liver haemangioma to grow further and create some undesired effects.

There is also a discussion as to whether contraceptive pills or hormonal pills are also responsible for certain complications in liver haemangioma. It is better to take advice of your doctor before starting on any medications, if one already suffers from a liver haemangioma.

Treatment for Liver Haemangioma

No treatment is needed for a liver haemangioma if it is asymptomatic and is very small. They are often undiagnosed. The diagnosis is usually accidental when tests and procedures are done for some other ailment. Many physicians believe the haemangiomas are best left alone unless they are causing any serious symptoms. The treatment includes methods like medication, for topical and systemic use, surgery, hepatic artery ligation or radiotherapy. But, any of these are carried out only after weighing the pros and cons of the treatment and it's potential harmful effects on the body.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: September 22, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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