Q:

What does it mean if you have a hepatic cyst in your liver?

A:

Quick Answer

Hepatic cysts are abnormal, thin-walled, fluid-filled sacs found in a very small fraction of livers, states Cleveland Clinic. These abnormalities cause symptoms that include pain and upper abdominal fullness. However, the vast majority of individuals with hepatic cysts rarely experience any symptoms.

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Full Answer

Hepatic cysts are found on an estimated 5 percent of the population, reports Cleveland Clinic. Only about 5 percent of affected individuals eventually develop symptoms. Due to this absence of overt indicators, these structures are usually only discovered during routine ultrasound or computer tomography imaging tests.

However, in a select number of cases, hepatic cysts grow large enough to cause pain and bloating, says Cleveland Clinic. Additionally, some individuals may develop sudden, intense pain on the shoulders and right upper quadrant caused by blood ingress into the cyst. The pain gradually ceases over the course of a few days after the bleeding stops.

The causes of hepatic cysts remain largely unknown, states American Liver Foundation. However, some hepatic cysts may be present in infant livers at birth, and only grow large enough to be detected in adulthood. These abnormalities may also be the result of infection by a sheep-borne parasite, echinococcus.

Treatment for symptomatic hepatic cysts typically involves excision of a substantial portion of the cyst wall through surgery, explains Cleveland Clinic. The procedure can be conducted using minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery. Hepatic cysts caused by echinococcus require treatment with antibiotics.

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