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Hepatic hemangioma is a benign growth in the liver made up of widened blood vessels. Hepatic hemangioma is a very common liver tumor. Women are usually more affected than men, but it may affect infants as well. The size of hepatic hemangioma is usually less than 1 cm in diameter. Small growth typically does not cause any symptoms and does not require treatment. However, hepatic hemangioma may reach more than 20 cm and it is usually followed by pain and other symptoms. Giant hepatic hemangioma is a term for the tumors larger than 5 cm. Giant hemangiomas are more commonly seen in women.

Symptoms of Hepatic Hemangioma

Hepatic hemangioma is usually asymptomatic. Small hemangiomas never cause symptoms and are frequently accidentally discovered while doing tests for unrelated health problems. However, large hepatic hemangioma can cause symptoms and interfere with the function of certain organ if the growth is positioned near it. Large hemangiomas are associated with nausea, pain in the abdomen and enlargement of the liver. In rare cases, large hemangiomas can rupture and cause severe pain and bleeding in the abdomen. This requires prompt management since it can have fatal outcome. Infants with hepatic hemangioma may present symptoms such as anemia and development of abdominal mass.

Causes of Hepatic Hemangioma

It is believed that hepatic hemangioma is a congenital defect. It can occur at any age but it is commonly diagnosed in people aged between 30 and 50. In infants hepatic hemangioma (also called benign infantile hemangioendothelioma) can be life threatening condition. As already mentioned women are affected by hepatic hemangioma more often and usually have larger growths comparing to men.

Hepatic Hemangioma RemovalAfter diagnosing the tumor with the help of CT and MRI scan, blood tests and hepatic angiogram, a doctor can decide for adequate treatment. The most effective way to treat hepatic hemangioma is surgical removal of the growth. This can be done by different procedures. A surgeon may perform liver resection in order to remove a large tumor. Another option for treating giant hepatic hemangioma is liver transplant, but it is commonly recommended for those with multiple hemangiomas. Liver resection and liver transplant are indicated in case of rapid growth or spontaneous rupture of the tumor. The condition can be also treated with the procedures that decrease the size of large growths. One such procedure is ligation of the liver artery, in which blood vessels that supply the liver with blood are tied off. Embolization of the liver is another procedure for shrinking the tumor, which involves blocking the blood vessels connected to the liver. Blood vessels are blocked by injecting a substance (emboli). The procedure also provides pain relief.

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