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Hemangiomas of the Liver

By

Danielle Tholey

, MD, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital

Last full review/revision Apr 2020| Content last modified Apr 2020
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A hemangioma is a noncancerous liver tumor composed of a mass of abnormal blood vessels.

In the United States, about 1 to 5% of adults have small hemangiomas that cause no symptoms. These tumors are usually detected only when ultrasonography, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is done for unrelated reasons (see Imaging Tests of the Liver and Gallbladder). Such tumors do not require treatment.

Hemangiomas that cause symptoms are very rare. Symptoms are more likely if hemangiomas are larger than about 1 1/2 inches (4 cm). These tumors may cause abdominal discomfort and bloating and, less often, loss of appetite, nausea, a feeling of being full after eating a small meal, or pain.

In infants, hemangiomas usually disappear on their own. However, occasionally hemangiomas are large and cause problems, such as widespread blood clotting and heart failure. These tumors require treatment, which may include drugs (such as corticosteroids), a procedure to block the hemangioma’s blood supply (called selective hepatic artery embolization), sometimes surgery to remove the tumor, and, rarely, liver transplantation.

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