A hepatic hemangioma (or hepatic sponge or hepatic sponge) is a benign tumor. As a rule, the hemangioma occurs on the head or neck; mainly children are affected, whereby the blood sponge – until puberty – recedes by itself. A hepatic hemangioma, on the other hand, is a rare form of blood sponge.
What is a hepatic hemangioma?
The hepatic hemangioma is detected in the course of an abdominal sonography. It is usually an incidental finding as the hepatic hemangioma does not cause any discomfort or symptoms. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Hepatic Hemangioma.
The hemangioma is a benign tumor. There are different forms, the most common being cavernous and capillary hemangioma. As a rule, the hemangioma is expressed by a red spot or appears in the form of a bluish-reddish nodule. The classic hemangioma grows in the first few years of life, but becomes smaller over time and can disappear again.
It is usually a benign growth that is rarely associated with medical complications. Hepatic hemangioma is a particularly rare form that rarely causes medical problems. It should be noted, however, that the hepatic hemangioma must be examined at regular intervals.
This is the only way the doctor can be sure that the hepatic hemangioma is not growing in size or displacing the ancillary organs. Since the hepatic hemangioma rarely causes any symptoms, it is usually only discovered by accident.
So far, the cause of a liver hemangioma is not 100 percent known. However, there are several studies that support at least the suspicion that erythema is linked to estrogen, a hormone. If there is a connection between the soft tissue and the estrogen, a blood sponge can subsequently form. There is also the theory that genetics sometimes play a role.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Hemangiomas are always connected to the bloodstream. It should be noted that hemangiomas always have a different appearance. If the blood sponges appear on the skin’s surface, they are reminiscent of a ripe strawberry. However, if a liver hemangioma occurs, they represent a swelling.
As a rule, the liver hemangioma does not cause any symptoms. Patients rarely complain of pain or discomfort. For this reason, hepatic hemangioma is often diagnosed incidentally. There are therefore no typical symptoms and complaints that can be automatically associated with liver hemangioma.
Diagnosis & course of disease
The hepatic hemangioma is detected in the course of an abdominal sonography. It is usually an incidental finding as the hepatic hemangioma does not cause any discomfort or symptoms. The hepatic hemangioma has a round to oval, rather sharply defined and hyperechoic structure. If the doctor decides to use duplex sonography, he can also identify the supplying vessel.
However, the doctor can only make a reliable diagnosis if he decides to use a contrast medium sonography. Here the centripetal filling (i.e. from the outside to the inside) becomes visible – in German this circumstance is also called the iris glare phenomenon. MRI or CT examinations can also be carried out if the doctor is unsure whether a liver hemangioma is actually present or not.
In case of doubt, a commercial sample can also be taken (fine needle biopsy). Here, the liver is visualized as part of an ultrasound examination, so that the doctor can insert a hollow needle through the patient’s abdominal wall and pierce the area to be clarified. The removed tissue is then examined under the microscope.
In this way, all doubts can be cleared up so that a 100 percent reliable diagnosis can be made. Such procedures are used when there is a risk that a malignant tumor is present. As a rule, the hepatic hemangioma regresses or remains unchanged, so that no further therapies are required.
Since the hepatic hemangioma does not cause any symptoms either, in many cases it is not discovered at all or only discovered by chance. Nevertheless, it is important that the liver hemangioma is checked and controlled at regular intervals. Even if the hepatic hemangioma does not cause any symptoms, it should be kept in mind.
In most cases, a hepatic hemangioma is visible on the skin. This results in a relatively strong and bright red spot on the skin, which is often associated with swelling. As a rule, however, the liver hemangioma does not lead to any particular symptoms or pain. However, those affected may suffer from inferiority complexes or reduced self-esteem due to the spots.
Depression or other symptoms rarely occur. Furthermore, there are usually no special complications. This complaint is treated with the help of medication and hormones. There may be side effects. Only in severe cases does the liver hemangioma have to be surgically removed. Here, too, there are usually no special complications.
Complications can occur when the hepatic hemangioma is actually related to liver problems. The further course of this disease depends heavily on the liver problems themselves, so that a general course cannot usually be predicted. In most cases, however, the life expectancy of the person affected is not reduced or otherwise influenced by the hepatic hemangioma.
When should you go to the doctor?
A hepatic hemangioma is usually discovered during a routine ultrasound because it causes no symptoms if it is small. If a more precise diagnosis is necessary, for example to clearly differentiate a liver hemangioma from a metastasis or to determine a tendency to bleed, further examinations are sometimes necessary. Here it is necessary to go to a specialist for an MRI or another form of diagnostics. Some doctors also advise having a larger hemangioma checked regularly.
If the liver hemangioma is known, it is only acute symptoms that require another visit to the doctor. However, the liver is rarely noticeable with symptoms. However, in the event of new, permanent or massive digestive problems, it is advisable to see a doctor for a liver check-up ultrasound.
Going to the doctor with a large hemangioma is particularly important if the liver area was hit in an accident. Pain and swelling, but also circulatory problems are warning factors in this context, since a bleeding hemangioma can be a serious complication.
Treatment & Therapy
As a rule, hepatic hemangioma is not treated. Since the hemophilia does not cause any symptoms, the patient only has to go to regular check-ups. The doctor checks whether the hepatic hemangioma has grown. If there is no rapid growth, the liver hemangioma can be ignored.
If the doctor discovers focal nodular hyperplasia, they check whether the patient is receiving any hormonal treatments. Those will be ended later. If the liver hemangioma occurs in a woman who is using birth control pills, the product must be discontinued. Subsequently, it is checked whether liver hemangioma disappears or becomes smaller.
It must be decided on an individual basis whether the hormone treatment can then be continued. However, if the doctor finds that the hepatic hemangioma is growing or is sometimes displacing neighboring organs, he must remove the blood sponge. Sometimes the liver hemangioma can also cause pain.
Although pain is unlikely, once a hepatic hemangioma has been diagnosed, liver problems should not be ignored. If symptoms arise, the hepatic hemangioma is surgically removed. This is a non-hazardous operation.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis for hepatic hemangioma is favorable. The benign tumor only causes symptoms in very rare cases. Usually it is only noticed by chance because it hardly causes any impairments in the human organism. In addition, spontaneous healing is documented in most cases of the disease. In a large number of cases, the undesired tissue change gradually regresses on its own.
Liver hemangiomas are primarily diagnosed in children, who are normally free of symptoms by the time they reach puberty. Only a few patients develop complications or complaints. If the tissue change causes neighboring organs to be displaced, a treatment plan is drawn up as a precautionary measure. In addition to regular check-ups, there may be a change in the intake of possible hormonal preparations.
If an operation has to be carried out, this is associated with the usual risks and side effects. Wound healing may be impaired or unexpected difficulties may arise during the procedure. Delays in the healing process are usually possible, since the removal of the hepatic hemangioma is one of the safest treatment methods. In very rare cases, due to the adversity that develops, sepsis may occur. Blood poisoning represents a potential threat to human life and requires intensive care.
Since it is not yet known why a liver hemangioma can occur at all, no preventive measures are known. It is important that the patient has regular examinations of the liver hemangioma so that the doctor can react quickly if the liver hemangioma grows.
Most people affected by a hepatic hemangioma do not have any special aftercare measures available. It is a serious illness that needs to be treated by a doctor. If left untreated, it can lead to the death of the person concerned in the worst case, so that a doctor should be contacted at the first signs and symptoms.
However, in some cases there is also self-regression, so that follow-up care is no longer necessary. In most cases, hepatic hemangioma is treated by taking various medications. The person concerned should ensure that the medication is taken regularly and that the dosage is correct.
Since hepatic hemangioma can occur mainly in children, parents are responsible for taking the medication correctly. In some cases, a surgical intervention may also be necessary, whereby no special aftercare is necessary. As a rule, this disease does not reduce the life expectancy of the person affected if it is removed in time. Even after treatment, regular checks and examinations by a doctor are necessary in order to detect possible further damage to internal organs at an early stage.
You can do that yourself
A liver hemangioma usually does not require treatment. The blood sponge usually does not cause any symptoms and only needs to be checked regularly in order to detect any growth at an early stage. If the hepatic hemangioma does not grow, then the patient does not need to take any further action. However, you should watch out for unusual symptoms. If pain in the liver or other symptoms appear, it is best to inform the doctor.
In the event of serious complications, the person concerned should call the emergency services. A slight discomfort can be counteracted with sleep and rest. An adapted diet consisting of bland foods and herbal teas can also alleviate the symptoms. Cooling pads and gentle painkillers from nature help against acute pain. St. John’s wort and lavender, for example, have proven effective and can be applied as an ointment or drunk as a tea. In many cases, moderate exercise such as a walk in the fresh air or a short yoga session helps with pressure pain in the abdomen.
If the liver hemangioma occurs in connection with taking the contraceptive pill, the preparation must be discontinued. Regular check-ups by the doctor are indicated until the blood sponge disappears.