Management of 155 patients with benign liver tumours

Br J Surg. 2001 Jun;88(6):808-13. doi: 10.1046/j.0007-1323.2001.01771.x.


Background: Benign hepatic tumours continue to represent a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge. This study evaluates the indications and results of resection compared with observation in patients with benign hepatic tumours.

Methods: Patients with a primary diagnosis of benign liver tumour were identified from a prospective database and evaluated retrospectively.

Results: From January 1992 to June 1999, 155 patients with benign hepatic tumours were evaluated. The diagnoses included haemangioma (n = 97), focal nodular hyperplasia (FNH) (n = 42), hepatic adenoma (n = 12) and cystadenoma (n = 4). Sixty-eight patients (44 per cent) underwent resection because of symptoms (n = 36), inability to exclude a malignancy (n = 31) or enlargement on serial imaging (n = 11). The operative morbidity and mortality rates were 21 per cent and zero respectively. Thirty patients had a preoperative percutaneous needle biopsy, 19 of which were either incorrect or indeterminate. Overall, 39 of 42 patients with symptoms attributed to the tumour were asymptomatic after resection and 18 of 21 patients with symptoms considered unrelated to the tumour were asymptomatic after a period of observation and/or treatment of unrelated conditions (median follow-up 16 months).

Conclusion: When indicated, resection of benign liver tumours can be performed safely. Symptomatic patients with a small FNH or haemangioma can be observed because their symptoms are unlikely to be related to the liver tumour. Percutaneous needle biopsy rarely changes management.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy, Needle / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods