What is a liver hemangioma?

A liver hemangioma, also known as a hepatic hemangioma, is a benign (non-cancerous) tumor in the liver that is made up of clusters of blood-filled cavities fed by the hepatic (liver) artery. Usually, a patient has only one hemangioma, but in some cases there may be more than one. Hemangiomas do not develop into cancer and do not spread to other areas of the body.

How common are liver hemangiomas?

Liver hemangioma is the most common benign (non-cancerous) liver tumor, affecting up to 5% of adults in the United States.

Who is affected by liver hemangiomas?

Liver hemangiomas are more common in adults than in children; the typical age at diagnosis is 30-50 years, but they can happen at any age. Liver hemangiomas occur more often in women than in men, but can affect both.

What causes a liver hemangioma?

The causes of liver hemangiomas are not known. Some cases may be genetic (runs in the family).

What are the symptoms of a liver hemangioma?

Most liver hemangiomas do not cause symptoms, and are only discovered when the patient is being seen for another, unrelated health condition.

Small (a few millimeters to 2 centimeters in diameter) and medium (2 to 5 centimeters) hemangiomas usually do not cause symptoms, but should be followed regularly by a doctor. Such monitoring is needed because about 10% of hemangiomas increase in size over time, for unknown reasons.

Giant liver hemangiomas (more than 10 centimeters) usually develop symptoms and complications that require treatment. Symptoms most often include upper abdominal pain, as the large mass presses against surrounding the liver tissue and capsule. Other symptoms include:

  • Poor appetite
  • Feeling full quickly when eating a meal
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling bloated after eating

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/23/2018.

References

  • American Liver Foundation. Benign Liver Tumors. Accessed 8/24/2018.
  • Merck Manual Consumer Version. Hemangiomas of the Liver. Accessed 8/24/2018.
  • Bajenaru N, Balaban V, Săvulescu F, et al. Hepatic hemangioma -review-. J Med Life. 2015; 8(Spec Issue): 4–11.

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