Hepatomegaly Overview:

Hepatomegaly is nothing but an enlarged liver. Various conditions lead to the enlargement of the liver. If the size of the liver is beyond the normal proportions, it is termed as hepatomegaly. The swelling of the liver will take place when a person is affected by hepatitis as well. As there are various treatment options, you should figure out the issue. After the diagnosis, you will be subjected to the most appropriate treatment to overcome the condition.

If you have an enlarged liver, you may suffer from liver disease, cancer or genetic disease. A person may experience heart and blood vessel abnormalities as well. The frequency of infections will increase and the person will be exposed to toxins. The liver is a triangular organ and its weight and size will increase with age. The liver size will be in between 6 cm and 15 cm. The size of the liver is influenced by the body shape and sex as well.

Hepatomegaly Symptoms:

If there is a slightly enlarged liver, there will not be prominent symptoms. However, the severe swelling will reveal symptoms. If you find any of the given signs or symptoms of hepatomegaly, you should fix an appointment with the doctor:

-  Discomfort of belly

-  Felling of fullness

-  Yellowing of skin or eyes (based on the cause of liver)

-  Weakness

-  Nausea

-  Weight loss

The symptoms of hepatomegaly will affect the functionality of the liver. If the body does not get the much-needed help and it will lead to various kinds of diseases and sicknesses.

If you are suffering from hepatomegaly, medical attention is required. However, all types of hepatomegaly do not demand medical emergency.

The following symptoms are found in a patient suffering from hepatomegaly along with other medical conditions:

-  Muscle ache

-  Jaundice

-  Itching

-  Nausea

-  Fatigue

-  Vomiting

-  Abdominal pain or mass

-  Bruising of eyes

-  Swelling in legs or feet

-  Increase in abdominal size

-  Weight loss

A medical emergency is created when a person experiences severe abdominal pain, bloody vomit, shortness of breath, blood stains in stools, fever and jaundice.

Some people with enlarged liver will experience pain in the upper right belly. There will be muscle aches, nausea, jaundice and abdominal swelling as well.

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Hepatomegaly Causes:

-  There are various reasons that lead to the enlargement of the liver. If you are suffering from autoimmune disease, your body’s immune system will attack healthy cells.

-  If the liver is inflamed due to fat, the following reasons are prominent:

-  Excess weight

-  Infection

-  Toxins

-  Alcohol

-  Medications

-  Autoimmune disease

-  Some patients suffer from metabolic syndrome. There are certain risk factors which may damage the liver. The risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, high blood sugar and belly fat.

-  If a person is suffering from genetic disorders, there will be build up of fat, protein or other kinds of substances.

-  Tumours and cysts in the liver: The abnormal growth of liver are attributed to a tumour or cysts that grow in the liver. They may either originate in the liver or spread towards it.

-  Some patients experience abnormal blood flow. There are various kinds of conditions which affect the blood flow. The conditions include congestive heart failure, hepatic vein thrombosis, and venous occlusive disease.

-  If a person is suffering from congestive heart failure, the heart will not pump sufficient blood. The blood circulation to various organs of the body will be affected.

-  Hepatic vein thrombosis refers to the blockage of veins in the liver.

-  If there is blockage of small veins in the liver, it is called as venous-occlusive disease.

-  If you are suffering from hepatomegaly, it indicates that the tissue of the liver is not functioning normally.

-  The tissue of the liver will be damaged by taking certain kinds of medications such as amiodarone and statins.

-  The common causes of hepatomegaly include metastatic cancer. Cancer can start in a certain part and it can spread to other parts of the body as well.

-  Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is a kind of liver disease and it will lead to the build of fat in the liver. There will not be the influence of alcohol.

-  If there are blood vessel abnormalities, the veins that bring the blood or drain the liver will be damaged.

-  The liver cancer will originate from the liver and it will grow further.

-  The damage or scarring of the liver tissue due to toxins is referred to as cirrhosis. The damage will be severe and urgent medical attention is recommended.

-  The virus will lead to various kinds of infections. Viral hepatitis can damage the liver.

-  The inflammation of the liver will take place due to the consumption of alcohol. There will be fatty deposits and scarring of the tissue with the consumption of alcohol.

-  The blood cancer in the lymphatic system will also destroy the tissue in the liver.

-  Leukaemia is a type of blood cancer in which the bone marrow will be affected and it will lead to the damage of the liver tissue as well.

-  Blood cancer of bone marrow which is specific to plasma cells will lead to the liver issue

-  The iron build-up in liver (hemochromatosis) will damage the liver

-  The copper build-up in liver (Wilson’s disease) will lead to the damage of the liver

-  Fatty substances will be build up in the liver and it will lead to liver disorder

-  If there is a backup of bile, there will be inflammation of the liver

-  The sacs in the liver may be filled with various kinds of fluids. There are many reasons which attribute to the growth of tumours. The growth of tissue will increase the size of the liver.

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How is it diagnosed?

The patient should undergo a physical examination by the doctor. The physical examination will help to figure out if the size of the liver is bigger than the normal size.

The following imaging tests will be conducted to obtain a better look at your liver:

-  Ultrasound – The evaluation of the liver and other parts of the body will be done very efficiently with ultrasound scanning.

-  CT Scan – It produces high-resolution images of the abdomen

-  MRI

-  ERCP test is conducted to figure out the problems in the duct which carries the bile fluid.

-  MRCP is a special type of MRI which will help in finding the exact issue of the liver.

-  A small sample of liver cells will be taken to figure to check for cancer or fatty liver condition.

-  A complete blood count will help in finding the abnormal number of blood cells

-  The liver function will be assessed through the liver enzymes

-  The abdominal organs including the liver will be evaluated through the abdominal organs

-  If a patient suffers from severe liver damage, a liver biopsy will be suggested by the doctor.

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Prevention Of Hepatomegaly:

Some people inherit hepatomegaly from their parents. If your family has a history of hepatomegaly, there will be a great risk.

The following disorders in your family will also increase the risk of hepatomegaly:

-  Chronic liver disease

-  Liver cancer

-  Inflammatory bowel disease

-  Autoimmune disorders

-  Obesity

-  Sickle cell disease

-  You can avoid excessive alcohol consumption to avoid hepatomegaly.

-  The blood transfusions, tattoos and unprotected sex will also increase the risk as you will be exposed to HIV, hepatitis B and C.

-  If you are travelling to foreign countries where the risk of malaria is high

-  You should consult your doctor before taking over the counter medication or herbal medicine.

-  By eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can decrease the risk of hepatomegaly.

-  If you are working for a company dealing with chemicals, insecticides, and other kinds of aerosolized cleaners, you should follow the recommendations of the employer.

Treatment Of Hepatomegaly:

As the liver performs lots of jobs, you should get treatment to overcome hepatomegaly. The treatment is based on the diagnosis. The liver plays an important role in purifying the blood. It will get rid of harmful chemicals from the body. The liver produces bile fluid which helps in drawing food from the fat. It stores sugar so that there will be a quick back-up of energy as per your body’s needs.

-  The exact cause of the swelling should be identified so that you can prevent long-term damage to the liver.

-  If the liver condition is associated with the alcohol abuse, you should want to avoid the consumption of alcohol so that further damage of the liver can be prevented. If you would like to quit alcohol, you should take the advice of the doctor.

-  To overcome the underlying disease, you will want to go through the medication.

-  The liver is the largest internal organ which can grow back after the surgery. Hence, there is a possibility of liver donation. A person can donate a portion of the liver so that it will grow to its original state after the donation. The liver will also grow in a person who has received a part of the liver from the donor.

-  Doctors will prescribe medications to deal with liver failure. There are various kinds of treatments to overcome infections like hepatitis C.

-  Chemotherapy is used to nullify the abnormal growth of cancerous cells

-  The patient may be subjected to radiation to deal with the localized issue

-  Surgery will be chosen in people suffering from severe hepatomegaly.

-  If there is great damage to the liver tissue, the liver transplant is the available option

-  The treatment for lymphoma will be offered depending upon the type and degree of spread of the disease

-  There will be a better outcome if the discovery of hepatomegaly takes place at an early stage.

-  By using medications, the symptoms of various conditions such as congestive heart failure and liver failure can be treated.

-  The enlarged liver will be unnoticed in some people for some time. When a person feels the symptoms, the doctor will conduct a physical examination. The doctor will press on the right side of the belly to feel the size of the liver. The tenderness of the liver will be identified through the physical examination and imaging tests will further confirm the liver enlargement.

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Complications of Hepatomegaly

-  The underlying cause of hepatomegaly should be found and the treatment should be initiated at the earliest.

-  In some patients, the symptoms of hepatomegaly will not appear until the last stage. There may be complications that persist throughout the life.

-  If there is damage to the liver, it will lead to an accumulation of fluid in the stomach.

-  The patient may experience other symptoms such as jaundice, loss of appetite and stomach pain.

-  You should follow the doctor’s instructions to maintain best health practices.

-  You should use prescribed medication very carefully. Overmedication or using the medication in an inappropriate manner will complicate the issue.

Myths About Hepatomegaly

Myth #1: Liver transplant is not an option

If there is widespread damage to the liver, the doctor will suggest liver transplantation.

Myth #2: No steps are required to prevent water retention

The enlarged liver will lead to water build up. Water pills may be used to prevent the accumulation of water in the stomach. In some people, the fluid buildup will be removed by using syringes and needles.


The enlarged liver is hepatomegaly. The liver which is the largest internal organ in the human body will perform vital operations. It will absorb the nutrients from the fats and will store sugar in the form of glycogen. A healthy liver can fight various kinds of infections in a very efficient manner. The liver produces hormones and proteins as well. It will break down the toxins and controls blood clotting. If you are suffering from hepatomegaly, you should get medical attention so that long-term damage or health complications can be avoided.

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Last updated on : 26-10-2018

Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.

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