Hepatomegaly

Hepatomegaly is the enlargement of the liver beyond its normal size. Hepatosplenomegaly is enlargement of both the liver and the spleen.

The lower edge of the liver normally comes just to the lower edge of the ribs (costal margin) on the right side. In its normal state, the edge of the liver is thin and firm, and it cannot be palpated (felt with the finger tips) below the edge of the costal margin.

Causes

The liver is involved in a multitude of bodily functions, and is affected by a variety of conditions, many of which result in hepatomegaly

Common causes include

  • Alcohol
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Infectious mononucleosis
  • Leukemia
  • Tumor metastases
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Niemann-Pick disease
  • Hereditary fructose intolerance
  • Glycogen storage disease
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Sclerosing cholangitis
  • Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS)
  • Reye’s syndrome

Diagnosis

Your healthcare provider will undertake a medical history and do a physical examination.

There may be more than one diagnostic test to determine the cause of hepatomegaly and may include:

  • Abdominal and chest X-ray
  • Ultrasound of the abdomen including the liver
  • CT scan of the abdomen
  • Blood tests, including liver function tests and blood clotting studies

Treatment

Treatment will depend on the cause

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