Liver cysts are aberrant masses that form in the hepatic tissues and are packed with either liquid residues or are present as a solid clump of cells. In the majority of cases, liver cysts are benign and do not advance to cancerous conditions. However, sometimes cystic tumours may develop within the hepatic sections, which could result in liver cancer.
Liver cysts are rare in adults, with most abnormal growths being present right from birth i.e. congenital, while others occur due to tapeworm infections. Most situations of liver cysts develop as just one or two lumps, but in rare circumstances, multiple cysts form in the hepatic tissues – an illness termed as Polycystic Liver Disorder (PLD). PLD gives rise to Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) as well in many individuals.
Causes Of Liver Cysts:
The chief reasons owing to which cysts form in the liver are:
- Congenital defects, which occur while the person is developing in the womb and are present right from birth
- Tapeworm infections, triggered by Echinococcus parasite species, that lead to sicknesses such as echinococcosis, hydatid disease and cystic hydatic disease
Certain other factors also cause liver cysts, such as:
- Polycystic Liver Disease (PLD), an inherited liver ailment that is passed on among close family members
- Injury to liver cells which impedes hepatic functions
- Cancer or carcinoma in the liver
In most cases, liver cysts develop as just one or two lumps that are very small and do not pose any discomfort in the person. However, once the cyst begins to grow in size and become a fluid-filled bump or semi-solid mass, some uneasy symptoms are experienced by the affected individual, including:
- A queasy feeling in the stomach, with abdominal bloating
- Pain in the abdomen, particularly in the upper right portion
- Prominent swelling and protuberance in the stomach
- Sharp, excruciating pain in the stomach when the cyst begins to bleed
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shoulder pain, from bleeding cysts that induce aching all along the upper right segment of the body
Since the majority of situations involving liver cysts are minor, with just one or two tiny lumps in the hepatic tissues that do not create any painful sensations or health complications, they are mostly not even detected unless the patient undergoes scans for some other condition.
However, if the patient does not have any other underlying disorder and reports noticeable external swelling in the region of the stomach towards the right side, along with incessant pain, then the doctor conducts imaging analyses to look for signs of liver cysts. These comprise diagnostic procedures of MRI scans, CT scans and ultrasounds, which probe the internal regions of the liver and show clear images of any cystic lumps or bleeding in the area.
Additionally, a blood test is also carried out, to check if the patient may be suffering from a tapeworm infection such as echinococcosis.
Treatment for liver cysts depends on the cause of the condition, as well as the severity of symptoms. If the patient develops only one or very few small cysts in the liver and does not encounter any grave indications, then no treatment is required and the cysts do not trigger any serious health consequences.
If the cysts in the liver prompt pain and discomfort, then the doctor performs a basic invasive procedure of surgical drainage, by utilising a fine thin needle injected via the abdomen.
Another treatment approach to completely eliminate liver cysts is by surgery, where a procedure known as laparoscopy is employed to remove the cysts using a laser beam targeted at the swollen mass in the hepatic region.
When parasitic infections trigger liver cysts, then the healthcare provider prescribes antibiotics to be taken as per the specified dose, to thwart the pathogen from the system.
In case polycystic liver disease is the cause of liver cysts, then the medical expert recommends a liver transplant procedure as the individual’s liver would have faced intense structural damage with multiple cysts. This helps to restore optimal hepatic functions in the patient.