A hepatic mesenchymal hamartoma is an uncommon benign hepatic tumour. Some authors even consider this to be a developmental anomaly rather than a cystic neoplasm 9,12.
It typically occurs in children and neonates with most cases presenting within the first two years of life 3. Male predominance (2:1)13.
Abdominal enlargement and respiratory distress are thought to be the the most common presenting features in children. They can very rarely present in adults 10.
The lesions are characterised by an admixture of ductal structures (blood vessels, small groups of hepatocytes, and bile ducts) within a copious loose / oedematous connective tissue stroma 7-8.
On a cut surface, there are typically multiple cysts in an oedematous stroma; the cysts
can vary in size ranging from a few millimeters to 16 cm, and in number and distribution - being discrete or connected13.
Mesenchymal hamartomas in adults may show a series of histologic modifications -
i.e, progressive loss of hepatocytes, degeneration of bile duct epithelium,
and cystic changes of the mesenchymal component 12-13.
Mesenchymal hamartomas can show a wide spectrum of radiological features, from being a multiseptated cystic tumour to a mixed solid and cystic tumour to even a completely solid tumour 1.
The dominant radiographic patten is a however a large (often around 12 - 15cm 8), predominantly cystic mass with internal septations 3. There can be considerable variation in the size of septae and cystic spaces 9.
Although non diagnostic, plain films may show a large, non-calcified mass in the right upper quadrant 9.
It usually appear as a multiple septa cystic lesion interspersed with solid components. Detection is difficult for pedunculated lesions. In some lesions may be the predominance of solid structures13.
On unenhanced CT, it usually has a heterogeneous appearance. The stromal elements often appear hypo-attenuating, whereas the cystic components have water attenuation 8-9. The appearance of cystic and solid portions has been likened to swiss cheese.
On a post-contrast CT scan, solid portions or thick septa of the tumours can show heterogeneous enhancement 1-8; 13.
MR imaging appearance of mesenchymal hamartoma can also vary dependant on the presence of stromal elements as well as protein content of the fluid 8.
DSA - angiography
While not being a standard diagnostic imaging modality of choice, angiography may show peripheral hypervascularity to the lesion with a septated avascular center 3-9.
There are fatal complications associated with a hepatic masenchymal hamartoma (particularly in the pre-natal group). These generally result from the size of lesion and include 2.
- fetal hydrops
- respiratory distress - neonatal respiratory distress
- circulatory complications / compromise owing to a large space occupying abdominal lesion
Treatment and prognosis
Mesenchymal hamartomas are benign lesions and are best treated by surgical resection, which usually results in cure 2. There are occasional reports of where ultrasound-guided intra-operative aspiration of fluid from the cystic components of the tumour to reduce its volume facilitating surgical resection 5.
- hepatic abscess
- hepatoblastoma (especially when there is a predominance of the solid component and no increase in alpha-fetoprotein)
- embryonal sarcoma
- infantile hemangioendothelioma
- simple hepatic cyst
- 1. Kim SH, Kim WS, Cheon JE et-al. Radiological spectrum of hepatic mesenchymal hamartoma in children. Korean J Radiol. 8 (6): 498-505. Korean J Radiol (link) - Free text at pubmed - Pubmed citation
- 2. Isaacs H. Fetal and neonatal hepatic tumors. J. Pediatr. Surg. 2007;42 (11): 1797-803. doi:10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2007.07.047 - Pubmed citation
- 3. Stanley P, Hall TR, Woolley MM et-al. Mesenchymal hamartomas of the liver in childhood: sonographic and CT findings. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1986;147 (5): 1035-9. AJR Am J Roentgenol (abstract) - Pubmed citation
- 4. Roberts EA, Liu P, Stringer D et-al. Mesenchymal hamartoma in a 10-month-old infant: appearance by magnetic resonance imaging. Can Assoc Radiol J. 1989;40 (4): 219-21. - Pubmed citation
- 5. Anil G, Fortier M, Low Y. Cystic hepatic mesenchymal hamartoma: the role of radiology in diagnosis and perioperative management. Br J Radiol. 2011;84 (1001): e91-4. doi:10.1259/bjr/41579091 - Pubmed citation
- 6. Cornette J, Festen S, Van den hoonaard TL et-al. Mesenchymal hamartoma of the liver: a benign tumor with deceptive prognosis in the perinatal period. Case report and review of the literature. Fetal. Diagn. Ther. 2009;25 (2): 196-202. doi:10.1159/000212057 - Pubmed citation
- 7. Lai FM, Jayakumar CR, Saw L et-al. Hepatic mesenchymal hamartoma: a case report and radiological findings. Singapore Med J. 1996;37 (2): 226-8. - Pubmed citation
- 8. Horton KM, Bluemke DA, Hruban RH et-al. CT and MR imaging of benign hepatic and biliary tumors. Radiographics. 19 (2): 431-51. Radiographics (full text) - Pubmed citation
- 9. Ros PR, Goodman ZD, Ishak KG et-al. Mesenchymal hamartoma of the liver: radiologic-pathologic correlation. Radiology. 1986;158 (3): 619-24. Radiology (abstract) - Pubmed citation
- 10. Giyanani VL, Meyers PC, Wolfson JJ. Mesenchymal hamartoma of the liver: computed tomography and ultrasonography. J Comput Assist Tomogr. 10 (1): 51-4. - Pubmed citation
- 11. Ye BB, Hu B, Wang LJ et-al. Mesenchymal hamartoma of liver: magnetic resonance imaging and histopathologic correlation. World J. Gastroenterol. 2005;11 (37): 5807-10. World J. Gastroenterol. (link) - Pubmed citation
- 12. Kim KA, Kim KW, Park SH et-al. Unusual mesenchymal liver tumors in adults: radiologic-pathologic correlation. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2006;187 (5): W481-9. doi:10.2214/AJR.05.0659 - Pubmed citation
- 13. GASTROINTESTINAL. ISBN:8535231439. Read it at Google Books - Find it at Amazon
Synonyms & Alternative Spellings
|Synonyms or Alternative Spelling||Include in Listings?|
|Mesenchymal hamartoma of the liver||✗|
|Mesenchymal hamartoma of liver||✗|
|Mesenchymal hamartoma - liver||✗|
|Mesenchymal hamartoma of the liver (MHL)||✗|