Hepatic Hemangioma: What Is It?
A Hemangioma in the liver, or hepatic hemangioma, is a benign (non-cancerous) tumor that affects the liver.
A hemangioma is composed of masses of blood vessels that are atypical.
The Liver: What Is It?
The liver is a very important organ in the body. It is made up of cells called hepatocytes and bile ducts. These bile ducts carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder and also directly to the intestines.
The functions of the liver:
- The liver delivers bile into the intestines to help absorb nutrients.
- When we drink alcohol, the liver breaks it down in the blood to pass from the body through urine and stool. It also does this with drugs and any toxic waste.
- The liver breaks down and stores nutrients, which are metabolized in this organ to be used for energy or to repair and build body tissues.
- The liver keeps us from bleeding too much when we cut or injure ourselves.
Who Can Get a Liver Hemangioma?
Anyone can get it. It commonly occurs in a person’s 30s, 40s, and 50s. However, women are more prone to having one than men.
Hepatic Hemangioma: Causes
Although experts don’t know entirely why a hemangioma is triggered, the majority believe that genetics plays a big role.
Nevertheless, there are a few factors that cause a liver hemangioma to become bigger:
- Birth control pills for too long
- Long-term steroid therapy (due to a disease or to build muscle)
- Hormone therapy to treat the symptoms of menopause
- Treatment related to ovarian stimulation
- Giving birth more than once
Hepatic Hemangioma: Symptoms
In general, a hemangioma may grow in the skin, muscle, bones, and other organs. A liver hemangioma does not exhibit any symptoms if it is not larger than 5 cm. Sometimes a liver hemangioma may cause bleeding or form fluid-trapping blood clots.
However, if it is bigger than 10 cm, a liver hemangioma may cause:
- Belly pain
- Feeling full than usual when eating
How is Hepatic Hemangioma Diagnosed?
Since they don’t exhibit symptoms they are generally discovered when we are being seen for another related health condition. A liver hemangioma may be found with:
- A CT scan (Computed tomography): this imaging technique uses x-rays and computers to produce images of a cross-section of the body.
- Angiography: this is an x-ray contrast to look at blood vessels in the body.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): this technique uses a large magnet, radio waves and a computer to produce images.
- Ultrasound: a contrast-enhanced ultrasound consists of high-frequency sound waves that are sent through body tissues, the echoes are recorded and transformed into video or photos.
Hepatic Hemangioma: How Is It Treated?
Usually, liver hemangioma are left alone. You should visit your doctor regularly so you can be examined properly.
If your doctor determines you have a liver hemangioma, then you will be monitored with imaging testing once or twice a year to check if it grows. However, an increase in size of a liver hemangioma is very rare.
There are no drugs that treat a hemangioma. A liver hemangioma is removed with a surgical procedure if it gets too big.
Another viable treatment is embolization. This consists of a surgeon inserting a tube (catheter) through a cut in your skin to block blood vessels feeding the hemangioma. This procedure slows its growth or shrinks it.
Hepatic Hemangioma: A Healthy Liver
What are the best tips to take care of the liver? As we mentioned above, a liver hemangioma rarely causes any complication, and it only does so when it increases in size.
However, there are some tips that help you lower the risk of developing liver conditions.
If you have a fatty liver requires the following foods: high-fiber plants (whole grains and legumes), fruits and vegetables, no alcohol, and very little salt, trans fat, sugar, refined carbohydrates and saturated fat.
Lifestyle changes for a healthy liver:
- Reduce your alcohol intake
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eat a balanced diet
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid toxins from cleaning and aerosol products, insecticides, chemicals, or additives
- Avoid using illicit drugs (cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, hashish, nos prescribed psychotherapeutics like pain killers, tranquilizers, stimulants, or sedatives)
- Practice safe sex (to prevent hepatitis B or C)
- Quit smoking
Foods for a healthy liver
A healthy diet is good for your liver. The following foods are especially beneficial:
- Greens: greens like broccoli, spinach, Brussel sprouts, or kale help prevent fat buildup in the liver.
- Oatmeal: apart from the boost in energy, oatmeal is high in fiber and fills you up.
- Walnuts: walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids which improves liver function.
- Avocado: they are high in healthy fats and fiber.
- Green tea: it may interfere with fat absorption, lower cholesterol, help with sleep, and improve liver function.
- Milk and other low-fat dairy: dairy protects the liver from damage and is high in whey protein.
- Fish: consume salmon, sardines, tuna, and trout which are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These help improve your liver health and lower inflammation.
- Coffee: actually caffeine seems to lower the amount of abnormal liver enzymes of patients with liver conditions.
We hope you found these tips helpful. Visit your doctor regularly and implement these tips in your lifestyle to have a healthy liver.