Liver Hemangioma

1 What is Liver Hemangioma?

The liver hemangioma is a noncancerous (benign) mass that occurs in the liver. It is made up of blood vessels that are tangled and is also referred to as a hepatic hemangioma or a cavernous hemangioma.

Most cases of liver hemangioma  are discovered during a test or procedure for a different condition. The most part of individuals with liver hemangioma do not show any signs and symptoms an don't need treatment.

It may be unsettling to know there is a mass in the liver, even though it is benign. There is no proof that an untreated liver hemangioma can lead to liver cancer.

2 Symptoms

Most cases of liver hemangioma do not present any signs or symptoms.

In cases where it causes symptoms, the may include pain in the upper right abdomen, lack of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.

However, these symptoms are nonspecific and may be caused by something other than the liver hemangioma.

3 Causes

There is no clear knowledge about the causes of a liver hemangioma, many doctors believe that is congenital by nature. A liver hemangioma occurs as a single abnormal collection of blood vessels that is less than 1.5 inches or 4 cm wide.

In some cases, liver hemangiomas can be larger or occur  in multiples. In most individuals, the liver hemangioma will never grow and never cause any signs and symptoms.

However, in a small number of people, liver hemangioma will grow and cause complications which will require treatment. There is no clarity to why this occurs.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Most liver hemangiomas are diagnosed during a test or procedure of some sort. Individuals with a liver mass may be referred to a doctor who specializes in the digestive system (gastroenterologist) or a liver specialist (hepatologist).

The following information can get anyone ready for an appointment with their doctor:

  • It is important to ask if anything can be done in advance, such as making diet restrictions, writing down any symptoms noticed, although many people don't show any symptoms.
  • Making a list of any medications, vitamins, and supplements being taken. Taking a family member or friend to the appointment can be helpful.
  • An extra person can help remind one if they overlooked or forgot any information. It is important to write down some questions before the appointment.

The following questions should make the list:

  • What is the size of my liver hemangioma?
  • Do I have one liver hemangioma or multiple hemangiomas?
  • Is my liver hemangioma growing?
  • What additional tests do I need?
  • Do I need treatment for my liver hemangioma?
  • What happens if I don't have treatment?
  • What are the treatment options?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take with me?
  • What websites do you recommend?
  • What will determine whether I should plan for a follow-up visit?
  • Are there medications that may worsen my hemangioma?
  • Are my symptoms from the hemangioma? 

Don't hesitate to ask any other questions you have.

The doctor is also likely to ask you a number of questions, including:

  • Have you had pain?
  • Nausea?
  • Loss of appetite or feelings of fullness after eating little?
  • Have you been pregnant?
  • Have you used hormone replacement therapy? 

Tests and procedures used to diagnose liver hemangioma include: Ultrasound Computerized tomography scan Magnetic resonance imaging Single-photon emission computerized tomography scan.

Other tests and procedures may be used depending on one's situation.

5 Treatment

Most people with a liver hemangioma do not need any treatment. While some people may be worried about leaving a mass in their liver untreated, in most cases liver hemangioma will never grow or cause complications.

Doctors can schedule follow-up exams to check liver hemangioma periodically for growth if dealing with a large hemangioma. For liver hemangioma that grows large enough to push on a nearby in the abdomen, it can cause signs and symptoms and may signal a need for treatment.

Liver hemangioma depends solely on the situation, such as location and size of the hemangioma or whether there is the presence of more than one hemangioma.

Treatment options may include the following:

Surgery to remove the liver hemangioma. If the hemangioma can be easily separated from the liver, a doctor may recommend surgery to remove the mass.

In some situations, surgeons may need to remove a portion of the liver along with the hemangioma. Without a blood supply, the hemangioma may stop growing or shrink. Two ways to stop the blood flow are tying off the main artery (hepatic artery ligation) or injecting medication into the artery to block it (arterial embolization).

The healthy liver tissue is unharmed because it can draw blood from other nearby vessels.

Liver transplant surgery. In very rare situations, if you have a very large hemangioma or multiple hemangiomas that can't be treated by other means, a doctor may recommend surgery to remove your liver and replace it with a liver from a donor.

Radiation therapy uses powerful energy beams, such as X-rays, to damage the cells of the hemangioma. This treatment is rarely used.

6 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with liver hemangioma.

People usually have an unsettling feeling after learning that the have a liver hemangioma, even a small one. One can be worried whether the hemangioma is growing or whether it will cause complications in the future.

Given time, one must adjust to living with a liver hemangioma. Until an individual learns how to live with liver hemangioma. Writing down a question to ask a doctor at the following appointment is important.

Asking for good sources of information and knowing the signs and symptoms of liver hemangioma will also be discussed in the appointment. Signs and symptoms may include persistent pain in the upper right area of the abdomen, nausea or vomiting.

A small liver hemangioma will not interrupt the liver's ability to function. However, one can still make choices that help keep their liver healthy.

Don't smoke, follow directions when using household chemicals, maintain a healthy weight, drink alcohol in moderation (if at all) and avoid risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex and sharing needles.

7 Risks and Complications

The following factors can increase the risks of developing a liver hemangioma that will show signs and symptoms:

  • Age: A liver hemangioma is more commonly diagnosed in individuals between the ages of 30 and 50.
  • Sex: Women are more likely to be diagnosed with liver hemangioma than men are. Pregnant women are also more likely to be diagnosed with hemangioma than women who have never been pregnant.

It is widely accepted that the hormone estrogen, which rises during pregnancy, may play a role in liver hemangioma. Women who used hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms be more likely to be diagnosed with liver hemangioma than women who did not.

It is also known that women who have been diagnosed with liver hemangioma face a risk of complications if they become pregnant. A growing hemangioma can cause signs and symptoms and may also require treatment.

Having a liver hemangioma not make a woman infertile. However, discussing the possible complications with their doctor can help any woman make a more informed choice.

Medications that affect hormone levels a woman's body, such as birth control pills, could cause complications if they have been diagnosed with liver hemangioma. But this is controversial.

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