Hemangioma, hepatic: A common benign tumor of the liver made up of small blood vessels. Hepatic hemangioma is the most common benign liver tumor and is 4-6 times more common in women than men (female hormones may promote its formation and growth).
These tumors are usually small, a quarter inch (less than 1 cm) in diameter, cause no problems and are discovered incidentally in the course of testing for an unrelated medical problem.
Large hepatic hemangiomas do occur, can cause symptoms -- pain, nausea, or enlargement of the liver -- and even rupture (a rare event) causing severe pain and bleeding into the abdomen that can be an emergency.
When a hemangioma is suspected, the challenge for the physician is to be sure that it is in fact a hemangioma and not another type of tumor, particularly a malignant one. Most hepatic hemangiomas need no treatment. If a hepatic hemangioma is large and causing symptoms, it can be surgically removed.