A liver hemangioma is a type of noncancerous (benign) tumor made of clusters of abnormal blood vessels. Small hemangiomas usually require no treatment and produce no symptoms. In fact, patients with small liver hemangiomas are often unaware of them until the tumors are detected incidentally during tests for other conditions. Doctors estimate between one to five percent of Americans may have small hemangiomas on their livers. Symptoms usually occur with tumors larger than four centimeters (one and a half inches), and typically include abdominal pain and bloating, though occasionally, nausea and loss of appetite may be present. In infants with liver hemangiomas, symptoms can be more serious and include heart failure and the formation of numerous blood clots. In general, women have an increased risk of liver hemangiomas, and most cases occur between the ages of thirty and fifty. The cause of liver hemangiomas is unknown. The treatment methods outlined below are often helpful for this condition.
Surgical removal of a liver hemangioma may be possible in many cases, and this is often the preferred treatment method. Surgery tends to be recommended when doctors determine the hemangioma can be easily separated from the healthy part of the liver. Ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI scans, and other imaging tests will be performed to help make this determination. Before the surgery, patients will need to fast for at least eight hours. These surgeries are usually performed in hospitals under general anesthesia, and patients may need to stay overnight for monitoring. After patients return home, they will need to be closely monitored and have frequent checkups with their medical team. Since liver hemangiomas may regrow, doctors usually do repeat ultrasounds and other imaging tests to monitor patients who have had hemangiomas removed.
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