Infantile hepatic hemangiomas: clinical and imaging findings and their correlation with therapy

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2004 Mar;182(3):785-95. doi: 10.2214/ajr.182.3.1820785.


Objective: This study was undertaken to determine different imaging patterns in infantile hepatic hemangiomas and to explore the relationship between clinical presentations, imaging findings, and response to therapy.

Materials and methods: The imaging studies and clinical records of all patients with infantile hepatic hemangiomas from two tertiary children's hospitals were reviewed. Univariate and multivariate stepwise logistic regression techniques were used to determine whether clinical presentation and imaging variables differentiated the type of treatment required.

Results: Typical hemangiomas appeared as focal or multifocal T2-hyperintense spheres with centripetal contrast enhancement and dilated feeding and draining vessels. Three atypical patterns included focal mass lesions with central varix with or without direct shunts, focal mass with central necrosis or thrombosis, and massive hemangiomatous involvement of the liver with abdominal vascular compression. In general, patients with focal lesions without high flow needed no treatment, and those with central varix and direct shunts developed severe high-output cardiac failure that responded quickly to embolization. The pattern of massive replacement of liver was associated with hypothyroidism, abdominal compartment syndrome, and a high mortality rate. Multivariate analysis of 55 patients indicated that congestive heart failure was the only independent predictor of treatment (p = 0.005). The presence of a shunt was the only independent factor associated with embolization or surgery (p = 0.002).

Conclusion: Although the imaging features of infantile hepatic hemangiomas vary to some extent, MRI features are typical in most patients and certain imaging findings are predictive of the clinical course. MRI is the technique of choice in diagnosing infantile hepatic masses.

MeSH terms

  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Female
  • Hemangioma / congenital*
  • Hemangioma / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Liver Neoplasms / congenital*
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Logistic Models
  • Male