A simple fluid-filled cyst in liver, known as hepatic cyst, may be benign and asymptomatic. Some irregularities during the fetal development may lead to the formation of a cyst on the liver. Mostly, these cysts do not lead to health problems. However, their excess growth may severely affect the functions of the liver such as the filtration of blood, removal of toxins and free radicals, and absorption of essential nutrients.
Hepatic cysts present at the time of birth are called congenital cysts. Hereditary diseases, like hepatic fibrosis, may result in the formation of liver cysts. A congenital disease named 'polycystic liver disease' may result in the development of several cysts on the liver. It may also hamper the function of the kidneys. The formation of benign cysts in the bile ducts may be caused by another congenital disease called choledochal cysts. Genetic disposition is also responsible for the Caroli's disease which results in hepatic cysts.
An infection caused by the parasite Echinococcus granulosus may also lead to this condition. The larvae of this parasite enwrap themselves within the cysts. These are called hydatid cysts which may lead to abdominal discomfort and pain. A cancerous tumor in the liver is likely to be misdiagnosed as a liver cyst. Therefore, one should undergo all the tests ordered by the doctor so that correct diagnosis may help plan the appropriate treatment.
The liver cysts are generally asymptomatic. People usually become aware of when they undergo some tests for detecting the cause of some other health problems. Bacterial infections may turn the fluid-filled cysts into cysts filled with puss and blood. Other infections may lead to the growth of the cysts, and therefore they may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Stomach upset
- General discomfort
- Mild to severe pain in the abdomen, especially in the upper right part of the abdomen where the liver is located
- Digestive system problems like nausea and diarrhea
- Constant feeling of fullness in the upper abdomen
- Pressure in the abdomen
- Enlarged liver
- Swelling in the abdomen
- Pain in the right side of upper quadrant and in the shoulder
- Infection leading to bloating and pain
- Obstruction of the bile ducts
When the cysts get ruptured or infected, the person may experience sharp abdominal pain and discomfort. Larger cysts may lead to increased pressure in the abdomen. They may cause abdominal distention; however, such cases rarely occur.
In most of the cases, no treatment is required; however, the treatment, when necessary, may vary according to the cause. Generally, large and painful hepatic cysts are drained by the doctor. In some severe cases, the cysts may be surgically removed. Doctors usually prescribe medications that help kill the parasite causing these cysts. In case of poly-cystic liver disease, if the number of cysts is extremely large, then liver transplant is the only choice of treatment.
Persistent pain in the right upper abdomen should not be overlooked. If you notice swelling and pain in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen, then you should immediately consult your physician.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.