Hepatomegaly is characterized by an increase in the volume of the liver. Among the causes: cancer, cirrhosis, excess iron… but not only! What symptoms? Pain ? Fatigue ? Can we heal?
Hepatomegaly is theliver enlargement. Concretely, the liver is too big. It can reveal different liver diseases. What are the causes ? Symptoms not to neglect ? Tiredness ? A sore liver? Is that bad ? What are the consequences of having an oversized liver? What treatment?
Definition: what is hepatomegaly?
The liver is the largest of the organs. It is located just under the diaphragm, a proximity which allows, when it grows, to detect it to the touch by a simple palpation. Hepatomegaly can concern the entire liver or only one of the four lobes of the organ. It all depends on the underlying disease.
Causes: why does the liver increase in volume?
The causes of this increase can be of various origins:
- excessive consumption of alcohol or fat because this overload which can lead to steatosis also called “fatty liver”,
- liver cancer,
- heart failure,
- hemochromatosis (excess iron),
- hepatitis or during a parasitic infection, such as schistosomiasis.
What are the symptoms of hepatomegaly?
In the majority of cases, hepatomegaly is asymptomatic. But sometimes, it can be accompanied by localized discomfort in the organ, loss of appetite, great fatigue as well as nausea and vomiting.
In the absence of suggestive symptoms, it is very often during a routine examination with your doctor, during palpation, that hepatomegaly will be detected. “A blood test will check the proper functioning of the liver and an ultrasound will confirm the diagnosis” says Dr. Mory, gastroenterologist in Paris.
What treatment to treat hepatomegaly?
This will be adapted to the disease responsible for the increase in the volume of the liver. If lifestyle is involved, stopping alcohol in case of cirrhosis and fatty foods in case of steatosis. Bloodletting is the reference treatment for reducing iron levels in cases of hemochromatosis. In case of cancer, removal of the liver may be considered.
Can you die from hepatomegaly?
“No, assures Dr. Mory, even if it grows a lot, the liver can never burst. On the other hand, hepatomegaly is a clinical sign. It is the cause of this condition which can, in certain cases, involve the life-threatening.”
Thanks to Dr Mory, gastroenterologist in Paris.