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What Is a Liver Mass?

Medical testing for an unrelated condition may discover a liver mass.
Liver masses are collections of immature blood vessels within the organ and usually cause no symptoms.
Abdominal discomfort may be a sign of a liver mass.
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  • Written By: J.M. Willhite
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 23 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A liver mass is a benign collection of immature blood vessels within the liver. Also known as a liver hemangioma, it is a condition that usually causes no symptoms and may be discovered during the administration of testing or procedures for an unrelated condition. There is no indication that the presence of an untreated liver hemangioma may cause the development of liver cancer. Treatment for masses which cause complications is dependent on several factors that include the location of the mass and the overall health of the individual.

With no known, definitive cause for the formation of a liver hemangioma, it has been asserted that the condition is congenital, meaning it is present at the time of birth. A small percentage of those with a liver hemangioma may experience a progression of their condition. As a liver hemangioma progresses, it may increase in size or multiply, leading to the formation of additional masses, resulting in the development of complications and, ultimately, requiring treatment.

Individuals with a liver mass are generally asymptomatic, meaning they exhibit no symptoms. When the mass causes symptom manifestation, an individual may experience a variety of signs. Abdominal discomfort, nausea, and vomiting may be indicative of the presence of a liver mass. Additionally, those with a liver hemangioma may experience the feeling of being full after consuming small amounts of food. For others with a liver hemangioma, their appetite may be absent altogether.

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There are several imaging tests used to confirm the presence of a liver hemangioma. Individuals may undergo testing that includes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a computerized tomography (CT) scan, and an ultrasound of the abdominal area. Additional testing procedures may be dependent on the individual and the seriousness of his or her condition.

In most cases, individuals with a liver hemangioma who are not experiencing any symptoms or complications may not require treatment. For those whose condition is more serious, treatment is dependent on the location and size of the hemangioma, the number of masses, and the overall health of the individual. Treatment may include surgery, transplantation, or radiation therapy.

Surgical procedures used to treat a liver mass may include the removal of the hemangioma or a portion of the liver along with the hemangioma. For some individuals, a hepatic artery ligation or arterial embolization may be an appropriate treatment option. A hepatic artery ligation involves closing off the hepatic artery to block blood flow to the hemangioma. An arterial embolization utilizes the injection of medication into the hepatic artery to restrict blood flow to the mass. Restricting the hemangioma’s blood supply removes the nutrients necessary to promote growth, thus shrinking the mass.

Though rare, individuals with an unusually large liver mass may need to undergo a liver transplant to prevent further complication. Candidates for liver transplantation are those for whom traditional treatment options are not viable. During the transplantation process, the diseased liver is removed and replaced with one from a donor. Liver transplantation surgery carries considerable risks and these should be discussed with a health care provider prior to pursuing this treatment option.

Radiation therapy may be utilized in some cases to target and eradicate the cells of the hemangioma. The radiation therapy process involves the administration of highly concentrated energy, such as X-ray, to the affected area. Individuals who undergo radiation therapy may experience a variety of side effects that may include fatigue, and redness or irritation at the administration site.

Even though there is no known cause for the formation of a liver hemangioma, there are some factors believed to contribute to its development. Individuals between the ages of 30 and 50 may have a greater chance for being diagnosed with a liver hemangioma, since those within this age group are most frequently diagnosed with the condition. It has been asserted that high estrogen levels may contribute to the development of a liver hemangioma, therefore, women who have had hormone replacement therapy or who have been pregnant are at an increased risk for being diagnosed with a liver mass.

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Discuss this Article

anon281673
Post 9

I started having very bad back pains in my lower back near my tailbone. I went to to the doctor and they gave me meds to help with the pain. Three or four weeks later, I had very bad groin pain and by this time my eating habits had gone down to like half a meal a day and some days, no meals at all.

Anyway the doc sent me for a ultrasound on my groin, although they did not do it on my groin. They scanned around my rib cage and the back of the left side of my rib cage at the bottom and told me that they found a tumor in my liver and referred me to have a CT scan.

I went for the CT scan a week and a half later and they managed to find out the size ( 5cm x 7cm x 6cm) and where it is (left lobe of the liver ) but nothing further and I have been referred to have an MRI (I have not had it yet). I do now have date for it and it will be four more weeks. I am still suffering very bad chest and groin pain.

anon278443
Post 8

I too had a mass identified while a CT scan was conducted, likely for what had been a gallstone that had already passed. It's good to hear that not all masses create medical problems.

anon163349
Post 7

I went to the emergency room yesterday for a pain in my stomach. They did an ultrasound/X ray of my kidneys and chest. I was told I had kidney stones. And they also found a mass on my liver. I am very worried. I will follow up with my family doctor.

AlexKSA
Post 6

My son is one year old and found out by ultrasound that there is a liver mass located in his right lobe. what should I do? On Monday, they will bring him to a specialist for further medical consultation.

ladyd1000
Post 5

i sent a comment but more like a Q? on liver mass i got my gallbladder taken out and the doc found a mass on my liver. I'm afraid that it might be something bad, can you give me a percentage on liver masses that are not cancer? I'm really freaking out.

EarlyForest
Post 3

I was really lucky -- I had been experiencing jaundice and fatigue, and was fortunate enough to have a doctor order an MRI to see what was going on.

Turns out I had a mass on my liver -- benign, thank God -- and was able to have it removed before it could cause any more trouble.

StreamFinder
Post 2

@lightning88 -- It is scary, and one of the reasons why people tend to find out about liver cancer's progression after it's already spread in their body.

This is also why the liver cancer prognosis is so bad.

However, like the article said, liver mass doesn't always mean liver cancer. Benign masses are common, and it can also just be a cyst or even an abscess.

Although neither one is fun, they are certainly better than liver cancer!

lightning88
Post 1

That's pretty scary that liver mass can be so asymptomatic.

I wonder if that is common with liver disease, or whether liver masses are unique in that aspect.

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