The risk of spontaneous rupture of liver hemangiomas: a critical review of the literature

J Hepatobiliary Pancreat Sci. 2011 Nov;18(6):797-805. doi: 10.1007/s00534-011-0420-7.


Background: The risk of spontaneous bleeding or rupture of liver hemangiomas still remains unknown. The aim of this review was to analyze the problem of spontaneous bleeding or rupture in liver hemangiomas and to identify factors leading to bleeding in these cases.

Methods: A MEDLINE search was undertaken to identify articles in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish from 1898 to 2010. Basic data such as age and sex of patients were collected. Additional data such as risk factors or causes of rupture were also analyzed. Cases were divided into spontaneous and non-spontaneous ruptures.

Results: A total of 97 cases are described. In 51 of the 97 patients (52.6%) a non-spontaneous rupture was identified. Only in 46 out of the 97 cases (47.4%) was a spontaneous rupture found. Non-spontaneous rupture was significantly more frequent in patients aged <40 years than in older ones (p = 0.0099). Mean size of the ruptured lesions was 11.2 cm (range 1-37 cm). Massive bleeding occurred in 88 patients (90.7%). Reported mortality over the past 20 years has been significantly lower than before (p < 0.001). The overall mortality for the period under study was ~35%.

Conclusions: The spontaneous rupture of a hepatic hemangioma is to be considered an exceptional event. Preventive surgery should be considered only for lesions of at least 11-cm size in special cohorts of patients.

Keywords: hepatic hemangiomas; liver bleeding; risk of bleeding; spontaneous rupture; traumatic rupture.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Hemangioma / complications*
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / complications*
  • Risk Factors
  • Rupture, Spontaneous