Embolization for management of hepatic hemangiomas

Am Surg. 2001 Feb;67(2):159-64.


Hemangiomas represent the most common primary tumor of the liver. Clinically the significance of these lesions is highly variable. The management of hemangiomas is controversial and is intimately related to the size, symptoms, and associated comorbidities of the patients who harbor these benign tumors. Series suggest that the vast majority of hemangiomas are less than 4 cm, asymptomatic, and clinically incidental findings. Symptomatic hemangiomas are large and associated with a constellation of vague upper abdominal complaints including pain, mass, distention, early satiety, and weight loss. A number of small series of surgically treated symptomatic hemangiomas have demonstrated enucleation as a safe and effective intervention. We report a collection of case reports using embolization as a primary treatment of symptomatic hemangiomas. The first patient is a 73-year-old black man previously treated for prostate cancer by radical prostatectomy and radiation. He developed weight loss, abdominal fullness, and early satiety. His symptoms were attributed to a large left lateral segmental liver mass that was biopsy proven to be a hemangioma. The second patient is a 49-year-old black women who complained of weakness, fatigue, night sweats, and anemia. The only abnormality discovered was a large right posterior hemangioma. The third patient is a 49-year-old black women with unexplained right upper quadrant pain and anemia who was found to have a 19 x 11 x 7.5-cm left hepatic hemangioma by CT. All three patients underwent elective treatment of their hemangiomas with highly selective hepatic embolization. There were no significant complications related to the procedures. Symptoms resolved for all patients acutely after treatment. The use of embolization for hepatic hemangiomas provides safe and effective treatment of the patient's symptoms while avoiding operative intervention, extended hospitalization, or postoperative recuperation. This treatment modality should be considered for the symptomatic hemangioma under elective conditions.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Embolization, Therapeutic*
  • Female
  • Hemangioma / diagnostic imaging
  • Hemangioma / therapy*
  • Hepatic Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polyvinyl Alcohol
  • Radiography


  • Polyvinyl Alcohol