Background: Treatment of suspected hepatocellular adenoma (HA) remains controversial. The aim of this study was to evaluate the management of HA at a time when magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) are highly sensitive methods for diagnosing HA. Methods: Between January 2000 and January 2005, data from 48 consecutive women with HA (median age 36 years) were prospectively collected. The protocol for diagnostic work-up consisted of multiphasic MRI or CT. Management was observation if the tumour was smaller than 5 cm and surgical intervention if it was 5 cm or larger. Results: The median follow-up was 24 (range 3-73) months. Sixteen (33 per cent) patients had invasive procedures because of tumour size 5 cm or larger, malignant characteristics or haemorrhage. The remaining 32 patients (67 per cent) were observed; haemorrhage and malignant degeneration did not occur and none of the lesions showed enlargement after withdrawal of oral contraceptives. Multiple HAs were found in 32 (67 per cent) patients; liver steatosis was significantly more common in these patients than in those with a solitary lesion (59 versus 19 per cent; P = 0.008). Conclusion: Observation of adenomas smaller than 5 cm is justified because of improved radiological reliability. Resection should be reserved for patients with malignant tumour characteristics or with single lesions 5 cm or larger.
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