• Shruti GOCHHWAL

Causes and Treatment of Focal Nodular Hyperplasia

What Is Focal Nodular Hyperplasia?

  1. The liver is the only organ that is capable of self-regeneration, and this puts the organ at an inherent risk for developing atypical masses.

  2. Focal nodular hyperplasia (FNH) is a solid, benign hepatic mass of non-vascular origin and this condition was described by Hugh Edmondson in 1958.

  3. FNH is the second most common benign liver lesion.

  4. FNH accounts for eight percent of all non-hemangiomatous liver lesions.

  5. In most cases, FNH is asymptomatic lesions that require no treatment.

  6. FNH is more common in females and is seen in young to middle-aged adults. The female to male ratio is 8:1.

  7. FNH lesions can occur alone or in conjunction with other lesions like

  8. Recent evidence point out that FNH can occur de nova after chemotherapy treatment like oxaliplatin.

Symptoms of FNH

Symptoms of Focal Nodular Hyperplasia

Abdominal pain, Credits: pixabay


In most cases, FNH lesions are asymptomatic. Some patients may experience abdominal pain and gastrointestinal discomfort.

Types of FNH

FNH is divided into two

  1. Typical FNH

  2. Atypical FNH

Typical FNH

These types of lesions are characterized by a large appearance with well-circumscribed margins and poor encapsulation.

In less than 50% of cases, there is a prominent central scar with radiating fibrous septa. Histologically, the central scar consists of mature collagen surrounded by aberrant arteries, draining veins, and fibrous septae forming a pseudocapsule that distinguishes it from hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatocellular adenomas, and fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma.

A large central artery is usually present with a spoke wheel like centrifugal flow. FNH lesions contain bile ductules and kupffer cells.

Atypical FNH

These types of lesions lack a central artery and a central scar. So they are difficult to distinguish from other types of lesions.

Atypical FNH lesions have pseudocapsule.

Causes of FNH

FNH is more common in women

A Woman, Credits: pixabay


The exact cause of FNH remains unclear. It is caused by arterial malformations within the liver. These malformations, coupled with changes in perfusion, cause a regenerative, hyperplastic response of the normal hepatocyte.Any comorbid conditions that cause predisposition to the development of arterial malformations can increase the risk of FNH.

Also Read: Can A SGOT Test Help Maintain Good Liver Health?

Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome and the presence of hemangiomas can increase the risk of FNH.

There are also chances that a genetic mutation can be responsible for FNH, however, the mutation is yet to be identified.

As FNH is common in females, the condition can be linked to increased estrogen production. Females tend to have larger nodules than males.

Whether there is any association with the use of oral contraceptives and the risk of developing FNH is a matter of debate.

Treatment of FNH

Focal Nodular Hyperplasia Treatment

Surgery, Credits: pixabay


If the lesions are asymptomatic a “wait and see approach” is followed. Ultrasound examinations are recommended every six months until a definite diagnosis is made.

If the disease is stabilized and there are no changes in the numbers and the size of nodules, the frequency of ultrasound examination can be reduced.

If there is evidence of progressive growth or large lesions and symptoms of compression or an increased risk of hemorrhage related to trauma, surgical resection is considered. Subcapsular nodules can be resected laparoscopically. In some instances, liver resection can be safely performed in specialized hepatobiliary centers.

Take-Home Message

FNH are benign liver lesions caused by arterial malformations within the liver.

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