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Natural history of hepatic haemangiomas: clinical and ultrasound study.
  1. L Gandolfi,
  2. P Leo,
  3. L Solmi,
  4. E Vitelli,
  5. G Verros,
  6. A Colecchia
  1. Gastroenterology Unit, Malpighi Hospital, Bologna, Italy.


    Hepatic haemangiomas are the most common benign tumours of the liver and commonly present as incidental findings on sonographic examination of the abdomen. Since little is known of the natural course of these tumours, we performed a clinical and sonographic follow up of 123 haemangioma patients. Our prospective study investigated clinical and sonographic findings in 158 haemangiomas for periods of 12 to 60 months. Ninety nine haemangiomas measured less than 2 cm and had an echogenic pattern; 40 were between 2 cm and 5 cm with a mainly echogenic structure; 19 measured greater than 5 cm and showed a mixed echo pattern. At the first examination only eight patients, all with giant haemangiomas, presented symptoms which could be attributed to the tumour. During follow up only one haemangioma changed in shape and size. One patient who was symptom free at the first examination experienced right upper abdominal quadrant pain during follow up. No deterioration occurred in any of the patients with symptoms at the first examination, and all had a satisfactory quality of life. No complications arose during the follow up period. This study shows that in adults haemangiomas remain stable in size and echo patterns rarely change. Only haemangiomas greater than 5 cm may cause symptoms. Prolonged clinical and sonographic follow up of small and medium sized haemangiomas is not warranted.

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