Beaver tail liver

Last revised by Khalid Alhusseiny on 7 Feb 2024

Beaver tail liver, also known as a sliver of liver, is a variant of hepatic morphology where an elongated left liver lobe extends laterally to contact and often surround the anterior aspect of the spleen 2.

Beaver tail liver is more common in females. The parenchyma is normal and therefore has the same risks of hepatic pathology as the rest of the liver, except theoretically in trauma, where it is more prone to injury following trauma to the left upper quadrant or lower left chest.

When the liver and spleen have identical density on CT or echogenicity on ultrasound, it may be difficult to differentiate the two organs. Even when they appear different in density or echogenicity, it may be mistaken for perisplenic/subcapsular hematoma or a splenic mass 2,3.

Differential diagnosis

The beaver tail liver should not be confused with findings such as the “kissing sign” of the liver and spleen observed on imaging studies when these organs contact each other in individuals displaying hepatomegaly and/or splenomegaly 4.

Similarly, the beaver tail liver should be distinguished from the “hiding beaver tail liver” variant, where the lateral part of the left liver lobe is medially juxtaposed to the visceral surface of the spleen and assumes an acute angulation with the remainder of the liver 5.

See also

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: American beaver (photo)
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  • Case 1
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  • Case 2: with concurrent Hodgkin lymphoma
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  • Case 3
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  • Case 4
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  • Case 5
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  • Case 6
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  • Case 7: on chest x-ray
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  • Case 8
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  • Case 9: on MRI
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  • Case 10: CT
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  • Case 11
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  • Case 12: on ultrasound
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