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Hepatomegaly

  • Definition
    • Hepatomegaly is swelling of the liver beyond its normal size.

      If both the liver and spleen are enlarged, it is called hepatosplenomegaly.

  • Alternative Names
    • Hepatosplenomegaly; Enlarged liver; Liver enlargement

  • Considerations
    • The lower edge of the liver normally comes just to the lower edge of the ribs on the right side. The edge of the liver is normally thin and firm. It cannot be felt with the fingertips below the edge of the ribs, except when you take a deep breath. It may be enlarged if a health care provider can feel it in this area.

  • Causes
  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • This condition is most often discovered by a health care provider. You may not be aware of the liver or spleen swelling.

  • What to Expect at Your Office Visit
    • The provider will examine you and ask questions such as:

      • Did you notice a fullness or lump in the abdomen?
      • What other symptoms do you have?
      • Is there any abdominal pain?
      • Is there any yellowing of the skin (jaundice)?
      • Is there any vomiting?
      • Is there any unusual-colored or pale-colored stools?
      • Have you had a fever?
      • What medicines are you taking including over-the-counter and herbal medicines?
      • How much alcohol do you drink?

      Tests to determine the cause of hepatomegaly vary, depending on the suspected cause, but may include:

  • References
    • Martin P. Approach to the patient with liver disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 146.