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J Pediatr Surg. 2007 Jan;42(1):62-7; discussion 67-8.

Hepatic hemangiomas: subtype classification and development of a clinical practice algorithm and registry.

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Department of Surgery, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Hepatic hemangiomas, though histologically benign, may be associated with significant morbidity and mortality in afflicted infants. The literature presents much confusion regarding the natural history and treatment options for hepatic hemangiomas. Clinical manifestations range from asymptomatic self-limiting lesions to congestive heart failure associated with high-volume vascular shunting to fulminant hepatic failure with hypothyroidism, abdominal compartment syndrome, and death. There has been little rationale to choose among observation, corticosteroid, other pharmacologic agents, arterial embolization, hepatic artery ligation, resection, or liver transplantation for any given patient.


We analyzed several recent retrospective radiologic analyses and pathologic studies to determine whether hepatic hemangiomas could be categorized, allowing prediction of their natural history and rational choice of therapies based upon their clinical presentation and radiographic appearance.


We propose that hepatic hemangiomas do not represent a single entity but, rather, 3 principle categories of lesions: focal, multifocal, and diffuse. Because these 2 categories represent different anatomical and physiologic variants, so, too, may they respond differently to previously anecdotally applied treatment regimens. With input from international multidisciplinary authorities on hemangiomas, we developed and proposed a clinical practice algorithm for the evaluation and management of hepatic hemangiomas. Toward that end, we propose a plan to institute a web-based international hepatic hemangioma registry. Participants in the registry could obtain no-cost centralized review of imaging studies (and histology if available) and guidance regarding the management algorithm from an established multidisciplinary team. In exchange, the registry will facilitate the acquisition of systematic clinical and imaging information.


Longitudinal observation of response to more directed treatment protocols may contribute greatly to the understanding of these potentially fatal tumors.

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