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Hepatol Res. 2016 Jul;46(8):727-33. doi: 10.1111/hepr.12610. Epub 2016 Feb 25.

New recognition of the natural history and growth pattern of hepatic hemangioma in adults.

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Department of Hepatic Surgery I, Eastern Hepatobiliary Surgery Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.



Surgical indications for hepatic hemangiomas are still not clearly defined due to limited data on their natural history. This study aimed to investigate the natural history and growth pattern of hepatic hemangiomas in adults.


From April 2010 to March 2013, adult patients with hepatic hemangioma who had no prior treatment were enrolled. A routine follow up was performed to observe the natural history of the lesions and their tendency to cause complications.


A total of 236 patients were enrolled in the study. The median size of hemangiomas was 4.5 cm (range, 0.6-19.2). During a median follow-up period of 48 months (range, 3-266), 61.0% patients had hemangiomas that increased in size, 23.7% patients had stable lesions and 8.5% patients had hemangiomas that decreased in size. The peak growth period of hemangiomas was in patients of less than 30 years of age (0.46 ± 0.41 cm/year) and the growth rate decreased significantly after 50 years of age (0.21 ± 0.40 cm/year). Hemangiomas of less than 2 cm had the lowest growth rate (0.16 ± 0.42 cm/year). The peak growth rate of hemangioma size was 8-10 cm (0.80 ± 0.62 cm/year), then decreased rapidly to 0.47 ± 0.91 cm/year while the hemangiomas were of more than 10 cm. Only nine patients had severe symptoms caused by hemangioma. No patients presented with hemangioma-related complications.


The majority of hepatic hemangiomas have the tendency to increase in size but rarely cause complications. All the hemangiomas can be safely managed by observation, and surgery is only considered for patients with severe complications.


growth pattern; hepatic hemangioma; natural history; surgical indication


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