What Are Pancreatic Cysts?

Pancreatic cysts are pockets of fluid within or on the pancreas, defines Mayo Clinic. Most of these sac-like cysts are not cancerous and do not cause symptoms, but some do cause complications. Pancreatic cysts can appear in the form of serous cystadenoma, intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm, mucinous cystadenoma, or a papillary cystic or cystic islet cell tumor.

When pancreatic cysts do cause symptoms, signs such as nausea, vomiting, persistent abdominal pain or a mass in the upper abdomen occur, reports Mayo Clinic. An individual should seek a doctor if fever and persistent abdominal pain appear. The rupturing of a non-cancerous pancreatic cyst is a medical emergency, and emergency treatment is necessary if signs such as fainting, vomiting of blood, severe abdominal pain, altered heartbeat or decreased consciousness occur.

Cancerous pancreatic cysts can be the result of genetic mutations, and pancreatic cysts can also accompany rare illnesses such as von Hippel-Lindau disease, explains Mayo Clinic. Non-cancerous pancreatic cysts can occur from an injury to the abdomen or after a bout of pancreatitis. Analysis of medical history, an MRI scan, a CT scan and an endoscopic ultrasound can help diagnose pancreatic cysts, and the location and characteristics of the pancreatic cyst help doctors determine the type of cyst present. Treatment for pancreatic cysts can include monitoring, drainage and surgery.