Polycystic liver disease is a condition where several cysts of different sizes harden the liver cells. This hereditary condition is discussed in the following article. You can continue reading to know more in detail about this condition.
Cysts are sac like structures that form in body tissues and contain gas, fluid or some type of semisolid matter. Liver too can form hepatic cysts that are thin-walled sacs that are fluid-filled cavities. Liver cysts are very common and generally do not cause any type of health problems. About 6 people in 1000 suffer from polycystic liver disease. This is a hereditary condition where multiple cysts are formed in the liver. There are so many cysts that they appear like a cluster of grapes within the liver.
What is Polycystic Liver Disease
Polycystic liver disease (PLD) is an inherited disorder. In this condition, one observes a number of liver cysts scattered around the liver. It may cause abdominal swelling in some individuals, while some show no symptoms at all. It may be an autosomal dominant genetic disorder in some, and in few cases it occurs without any apparent cause. Women are more likely to form PLD than men as it is thought to be associated with levels of hormone estrogen.
In majority of the cases, these cysts cause only a few minor health problems. However, about 8% people may develop severe complications like compression of the adjacent organs, etc. The liver function is rarely compromised due to PLD, and it may decrease estrogen metabolism to some extent.
As this is a hereditary disease, the tendency to develop liver cysts is present from birth. However, these cysts do not cause much of a problem till one reaches their thirties. These cysts can vary in size and can be as small as a pinhead. Some cysts grow more than 10 cm in size and may or may not cause liver enlargement. The early signs of PLD are seen during puberty. As the person matures and enters their thirties, the symptoms become apparent. The symptoms include:
- Felling of fullness after eating a little food
In some people, enlargement of the liver will cause the stomach to appear large like a beer belly. As the condition progresses, late symptoms include yellowing of skin, fatigue, shortness of breath, inflammation of bile ducts, swelling of feet as well as edema.
The treatment is usually aimed at slowing down the cyst growth. The patient is advised against consuming caffeine and dairy products. Medications that help control blood pressure, diuretics are advised. If the patient develops urinary tract infection, antibiotics are prescribed. Low salt diet is also recommended to lower the pressure on the liver as well as kidney. Apart from this, many patients are advised to undergo a surgery to remove the cysts. The cysts may reappear after surgery and liver transplant is the only option left. Liver transplant is considered only when the quality of life is very poor, and no other treatment proves useful.
In most cases, polycystic liver disease does not require any kind of treatment. A laparoscopic deroofing helps in taking care of uncomfortable cysts. Many patients live a long, complete life with PLD. Very few cases develop complications and require intensive treatment.