Prenatal diagnosis and management of fetuses with liver hemangiomata

U. Gembruch, A. A. Baschat, K. Gloeckner-Hoffmann, L. Gortner, U. Germer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Objectives: To study the relationship between prenatal appearance and perinatal outcome of fetuses with hepatic hemangiomata with special emphasis on criteria that may help to improve perinatal management. Methods: In a tertiary referral center six fetuses with hepatic hemangiomata were evaluated by gray-scale, color, and pulsed wave Doppler ultrasound between 1994 and 2000. Fetal blood sampling was performed in four cases. All data (computerized files and video tapes) were analyzed retrospectively. Results: Two fetuses showed very similar sonographic findings. They had an isolated large ('giant') round hepatic hemangioma (diameter 43 and 68 mm, respectively) supplied by one hepatic artery and drained by one hepatic vein, both of them showing high velocity and low pulsatility blood flow. Fetal blood count and coagulation parameters were normal in one case, whereas the other fetus showed a Kasabach-Merritt sequence with severe thrombocytopenia (10 platelets/nL) and mild disseminated intravascular coagulation. Intrauterine platelet transfusion was performed immediately prior to planned Cesarean delivery. Rapid platelet consumption continued postnatally, requiring several thrombocyte transfusions. Platelet counts stabilized only after tumor resection on the second day of life. One fetus with diffuse neonatal hemangiomatosis developed high-output cardiac failure with hydrops in addition to Kasabach-Merritt sequence (15 platelets/nL), and died following premature delivery. Three fetuses, however, showing an isolated small hyperechogenic hepatic hemangioma (5, 5, and 6 mm in diameter, respectively) did not develop any perinatal complications. Conclusion: Large fetal liver hemangiomata and diffuse hemangiomatosis may cause severe perinatal complications, particularly high-output cardiac failure and/or Kasabach-Merritt sequence with severe consumption of platelets and clotting factors and hemolytic anemia. Fetal blood sampling enables the prenatal detection of these potential complications, allowing critical modification of perinatal management such as intrauterine platelet transfusion, especially directly before delivery. In contrast, isolated small hyperreflexic hepatic hemangiomata do not appear to be associated with any of these fetal and postnatal sequelae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)454-460
Number of pages7
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 28 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Diffuse neonatal hemangiomatosis
  • Doppler sonography
  • Fetal anemia
  • Fetal hydrops
  • Fetal thrombocytopenia
  • Fetal tumor
  • Kasabach-Merritt sequence
  • Liver hemangioma
  • Prenatal diagnosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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