Benign conditions of the liver

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Benign conditions of the liver are relatively common and can pose diagnostic problems due to the difficulty in differentiating them from malignant hepatic lesions. They are usually asymptomatic and are discovered incidentally during investigations. They occasionally produce chronic non-specific symptoms and seldom present as an emergency.

Liver function tests are usually within normal range, and diagnosis is established by abdominal ultrasound, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging or positron emission tomography. Further diagnostic tests include hepatic angiography, diagnostic laparoscopy and intraoperative ultrasonography. Biopsy or aspiration in the diagnosis of benign disease of the liver is controversial, but is clearly contraindicated in certain scenarios. Management strategies may vary from simple observation to complex hepatic resections.

Awareness of the natural history, clinical presentation and management strategies ensures appropriate initial treatment and prompt referral to specialist hepatobiliary units.

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