Unexpected discovery of small HNF1α-inactivated hepatocellular adenoma in pathological specimens from patients resected for liver tumours

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Background and Aims

It is rare but not uncommon to discover micro/small HNF1α-inactivated hepatocellular adenoma (H-HCA) outside the context of resected H-HCA. We aimed to review our cases of micro/small H-HCA discovered by chance on different kinds of liver resected specimens.


We retrieved cases of micro/small H-HCA discovered by chance on resected specimens outside the context of H-HCA. All these nodules were liver fatty acid binding protein (LFABP)-negative contrasting with normal positivity in the surrounding non-tumoural liver, ruling out the possibility of focal steatosis or other subtypes of micro-HCAs.


We identified 19 micro/small H-HCA cases. In 16 cases they were discovered in patients who underwent surgery for benign nodules including one haemangioma, six focal nodular hyperplasia, seven inflammatory HCA (including one with b-catenin activation), one HCA, whose subtype could not be identified because of massive necrosis/hemorrhage, and one hepatocellular carcinoma. In two additional cases, patients followed up for a melanoma underwent liver surgery to remove micro nodules possibly related to a metastatic process. Finally in one case a micro nodule was seen and resected during a cholecystectomy.


Taken together, H-HCAs are more frequent than we initially supposed as micro and small HCAs cannot all be detected by routine ultrasound. Despite no information on the potential growth of these micro/small H-HCAs, there is no argument to stop oral contraceptives or to ask for a specific regular surveillance. The association of different subtypes of HCAs with focal nodular hyperplasia suggests they share or have common etiological factors.

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