What Is a Focal Lesion in the Liver?

Lesions are a common occurrence in the liver, and the prognoses of focal liver lesions vary 1.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


The term "lesion" is broad and includes any wound, sore, ulcer, tumor or other tissue damage of an organ. A focal lesion in the liver refers to one area of tissue damage identified on the liver that has varying significance depending on the patient's health condition and a variety of other factors 2.


These considerations are important in evaluating the cause and significance of the lesion.


In many cases, a liver lesion is detected incidentally, during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT). Unless the patient has blood test results that imply severe liver disease, biopsy of a focal lesion is typically unnecessary 12.

Cause for Concern

Patients with viral hepatitis, cirrhosis or severe alcoholism should have a biopsy performed for diagnosis of a liver lesion, according to M.S 2. Campbell and K.R. Reddy of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, because these patients are at high risk for liver cancer, and the lesion could be the first cancerous tumor growth.

Benign Lesion Types

The two main classifications of benign (noncancerous) lesions are solid and cystic (meaning that the lesions are fluid filled). Within these types, the subtypes include:

  • hemangiomas (the most common
  • according to the California Pacific Medical Center)
  • focal nodular hypoplasia
  • focal fatty change cysts
  • bile duct cysts