Behavior and complications of hepatocellular adenoma during pregnancy and puerperium: a retrospective study and systematic review

HPB (Oxford). 2021 Aug;23(8):1152-1163. doi: 10.1016/j.hpb.2021.04.019. Epub 2021 Apr 28.


Background: Hepatocellular adenomas (HCA) are benign liver tumors at risk of hemorrhage. The influence of pregnancy on HCA growth and potential bleeding remains unclear. This study investigates HCA-associated behavior and bleeding complications during or shortly after pregnancy.

Methods: (I) Single center retrospective cohort study of HCA during and after pregnancy (II) Systematic literature review.

Results: The retrospective study included 11 patients, of which 4 with HCA ≥5 cm. In only two patients HCA showed growth during pregnancy. In this local cohort, no HCA-related hemorrhages occurred during median follow-up of 34 months (interquartile range 19-58 months). The systematic review yielded 33 studies, totaling 90 patients with 99 pregnancies. Of 73 pregnancies without prior HCA-related intervention, 39 HCA remained stable (53.4%), 11 regressed (15.1%), and 23 (31.5%) progressed. Fifteen HCA-related hemorrhages occurred in HCA measuring 6.5-17.0 cm. Eight patients experienced bleeding during pregnancy, two during labor and five postpartum.

Conclusion: Although hemorrhage of HCA during or shortly after pregnancy is rare and only reported in HCA ≥6.5 cm, it can be fatal. Pregnancy in women with HCA, regardless of size, warrant a close surveillance strategy. Observational studies on behavior and management of HCA ≥5 cm during and immediately after pregnancy are needed.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma, Liver Cell* / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms*
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies