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Prevalence and clinical outcome of hepatic haemangioma with specific reference to the risk of rupture: A large retrospective cross-sectional study.

BACKGROUND: Prevalence and incidence of hepatic haemangioma are estimated from autopsy series only. Although benign and generally asymptomatic, hepatic haemangioma can cause serious complications.

AIMS: The aim of the study was to assess the prevalence of hepatic haemangioma and to attempt to quantify the risk of major complications such as spontaneous rupture.

METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed the radiology database of a Regional University Hospital over a 7-year period: the radiological records of 83,181 patients who had an abdominal computed tomography or magnetic resonance scan were reviewed. Diagnoses made at imaging were reviewed and related to clinical course.

RESULTS: Hepatic haemangioma was diagnosed in 2071 patients (2.5% prevalence). In 226 patients (10.9%), haemangioma had diameter of 4 cm or more (giant haemangioma). The risk of bleeding was assessed on patients without concomitant malignancies. Spontaneous bleeding occurred in 5/1067 patients (0.47%). All 5 patients had giant haemangioma: 4 had exophytic lesions and presented with haemoperitoneum; 1 with centrally located tumour experienced intrahepatic bleeding.

CONCLUSION: Giant haemangiomas have a low but relevant risk of rupture (3.2% in this series), particularly when peripherally located and exophytic. Surgery might be considered in these cases.

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