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A liver hemangioma is a benign tumor. That is to say, it is a tumor that is not malignant and does not become cancerous, located in the liver. These tumors occur in about seven percent of healthy people, roughly six times as commonly in women as in men. Hemangiomas can occur anywhere in the body; they are not uniquely an affliction of the liver.


hemangioma liver tumor is usually small, around a quarter-inch in diameter. However, in some cases they can be larger, up to several inches in diameter. The great majority of hemangiomas cause no symptoms at all, and can only be discovered while in the process of investigating for other, unrelated complaints, usually through ultrasound imaging or computerized tomography (CT) scanning. Very large hemangiomas, however, sometimes do have symptoms, especially if they are placed near to other organs. Symptoms in that case can include pain, nausea, feeling full after eating only a small amount of food, or an enlarged liver. In very rare cases, large hemangiomas can rupture. This can cause severe pain, and also internal bleeding that can even be life-threatening.


It's not clear what causes a liver hemangioma to form. The tumor is describable as a tangle of blood vessels, but there is no certain association with any blood disorder or with any other condition. Most doctors believe that the condition is congenital, and that patients are born with a propensity for liver hemangioma to form.

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While hemangioma of the liver can form at any age, they are most likely to develop between the ages of 30 and 50. Women are more likely to develop them than men, and women who have been pregnant are more likely to develop them than women who have never been pregnant. Women who have had hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms also are more likely to develop hemangiomas. The hormone estrogen, which is more prevalent in women than in men and whose secretion increases during pregnancy, may play a role in causing the formation of a hemangioma.


The problem in diagnosing a liver hemangioma is making certain that it really is a benign tumor and not a liver cancer, which is a far more serious illness. Tests making use of imaging technology can be performed to ascertain this. These tests include CT scanning, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and a diagnostic procedure called scintigraphy. The last involves using minuscule amounts of a radioactive substance whose emissions are captured by gamma cameras to create a detailed image. These diagnostic procedures are not really concerned with diagnosing liver hemangioma as such, but rather with ruling out more dangerous conditions that would require more aggressive treatment.

Complications During Pregnancy and Hormone Therapy

Women that are clinically diagnosed as having liver hemangioma are up against the potential
chance of problems while pregnant. The increased estrogen output may cause the hemangiomas to grow larger, possibly reaching the point where symptoms occur and treatment becomes necessary. This risk doesn't mean a woman with the condition can't or shouldn't become pregnant, but awareness of the possible complication and discussing the matter with a physician are recommended.

The same risk occurs with hormone therapy for women who have hemangiomas. This includes not only hormone therapy for menopause, but also birth control pills and any other medications which increase or change hormone output, particularly of estrogen. Again, discussing the matter with your physician is a good idea.


In almost all cases,
liver hemangiomas require no treatment. The tumors are benign, non-cancerous, and except in rare cases are entirely harmless. If the tumor is especially large, or is causing symptoms such as pain or nausea, then surgical removal becomes an option.

Hemangioma Liver