Hepatomegaly or enlarged liver is a symptom that designates the increase in the size of the liver.
The liver can increase in size in many circumstances, including:
- For an inflammatory reaction in the case of a viral infection: this is the case of hepatitis, which can be acute or chronic;
- for hepatic steatosis, an invasion of liver tissue by fats, due to a diet too rich in fats or excessive consumption of alcohol;
- for liver cirrhosis with modification of the architecture of the liver, often of alcoholic origin;
- for a benign tumour of the liver;
- for a malignant tumor, particularly hepatocellular carcinoma, which may be the final consequence of cirrhosis;
- by a right heart failure that causes blood stagnation in the liver (called cardiac liver);
- by an inflammatory reaction in the case of a parasitic infection such as schistosomiasis;
- by an overload disease such as hemochromatosis (which occurs with iron overload) or Wilson’s disease (with copper overload);
- for an abnormality in the bile elimination pathways as in primary biliary cirrhosis
Signs and Symptoms
The hepatomegaly itself manifests as an increase in the volume of the liver; It is a symptom. However, it is usually associated with some other signs, and they are the ones that can make us suspect a possible cause:
- pain located in the region of the liver
- loss of appetite
- great fatigue
- diarrhea or intestinal transit disorders
- nausea or vomiting
- Hepatomegaly or enlargement of the liver is usually palpated at the level of the abdomen. It can also be discovered during an examination of images such as an ultrasound or a scanner.
- A blood test and a liver imaging test are often necessary.
Treatment and Management
- The treatment of hepatomegaly involves having a diagnosis of the cause that caused it and the treatment of this reason
- You may need a surgical removal in case of a tumor.
- Stop drinking alcohol when the cause is alcoholic cirrhosis
- Hygienic diet rules with reduced fat intake in case of steatosis
- Treatment with certain medications in case of excess copper or iron accumulation