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Hepatic splenosis mimicking HCC in a patient with hepatitis C liver cirrhosis and mildly raised alpha feto protein; the important role of explorative laparoscopy

M Abu Hilal*, A Harb, B Zeidan, B Steadman, JN Primrose and NW Pearce

Author Affiliations

Hepatobiliary-Pancreatic and Laparoscopic Surgical Unit, Southampton University Hospital, Southampton, SO16 6YD, UK

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World Journal of Surgical Oncology 2009, 7:1  doi:10.1186/1477-7819-7-1

Published: 5 January 2009



Splenosis is a heterotropic implantation of splenic fragments onto exposed vascularised peritoneal and intrathoracic surfaces, following splenic injury or elective splenectomy.

Case presentation

A 60 year old cirrhotic patient was referred to us with a hepatic mass, suspected to be HCC in a cirrhotic liver. A computerized tomography scan (CT) demonstrated a cirrhotic liver with a 2 × 2.7 cm focal hypervascular nodule, lying peripherally at the junction of segment 7 and 8. Diagnostic laparoscopy demonstrated a 3 cm exofitic dark brown splenunculus attached to the diaphragm and indenting the surface of segment 7 of the liver. The lesion was easily resected laparoscopically and shaved from the live surface with no need for a liver resection. The histopathological assessment confirmed the diagnosis of splenunculus, with no evidence of neoplasia.


Hepatic splenosis is not a rare event and should be suspected in patients with a history of splenic trauma or splenectomy. Correct diagnosis is essential and will determine subsequent management plans. In doubtful cases laparoscopic investigation can offere essential information and should be part of the standard protocol for investigating suspected splenosis.