Indian Journal of Pathology and Microbiology
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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 61  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 2-17

A practical diagnostic approach to hepatic masses

Department of Pathology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dhanpat Jain
Department of Pathology, Yale University School of Medicine, 310 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT-06510
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJPM.IJPM_578_17

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The differential diagnosis of hepatic mass lesions is broad and arriving at the right diagnosis can be challenging, especially on needle biopsies. The differential diagnosis of liver tumors in children is different from adults and is beyond the scope of this review. In adults, the approach varies depending on the age, gender, and presence of background liver disease. The lesions can be divided broadly into primary and metastatic (secondary), and the primary lesions can be further divided into those of hepatocellular origin and nonhepatocellular origin. The first category consists of benign and malignant lesions arising from hepatocytes, while the second category includes biliary, mesenchymal, hematopoietic, and vascular tumors. Discussion of nonepithelial neoplasms is beyond the scope of this review. The hepatocytic lesions comprise dysplastic nodules, focal nodular hyperplasia, hepatic adenoma, and hepatocellular carcinoma, and the differential diagnosis can be challenging requiring clinicopathological correlation and application of immunohistochemical (IHC) markers. Liver is a common site for metastasis, sometimes presenting with an unknown primary site, and proper workup is the key to arriving at the correct diagnosis. The correct diagnosis in this setting requires a systematic approach with attention to histologic features, imaging findings, clinical presentation, and judicious use of IHC markers. The list of antibodies that can be used for this purpose keeps on growing continually. It is important for pathologists to be up to date with the sensitivity and specificity of these markers and their diagnostic role and clinical implications. The purpose of this review is to outline the differential diagnosis of hepatic masses in adults and discuss an algorithmic approach to make a right diagnosis.

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