Liver cysts

Hepatic cysts

An abnormal fluid-filled sac in your liver

About

A liver cyst is a pocket of fluid or semi-solid material that can occur for a variety of reasons. It may be linked to a chronic cause of liver disease, a parasite infection, or grow for no clear reason. Many are present at birth (congenital) including multiple (polycystic) cysts that are linked to polycystic liver disease (PLD).

Need to know

  • Symptoms of liver cysts icon plus

    Liver cysts may present no symptoms for many years. That's because many types of liver cysts are slow to grow and surround themselves with a layer of tissue that stops them from starting an inflammatory reaction or infection in the liver.

    These cysts will grow, however, and may start to increase pressure inside the liver. This may lead to pain on the right side of the ribs, high temperature or feeling discomfort when taking a breath. Should the cyst rupture or leak, you may well experience one or more of the following:

    • fever or high temperatures
    • nausea
    • weight loss
    • jaundice, once infection reaches an advanced stage
    • surgery
  • Diagnosis icon plus

    For a confirmed diagnosis of liver cysts, your consultant will usually recommend a CT and/or MRI scan. Blood tests are usually needed to look for rare causes of liver cysts such as Hydatid disease and cystadenoma.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Treatment of cysts will depend on the type of cysts you have. If they're growing quickly, they may be 'deroofed’, where the top of the cyst is removed. Usually this is carried out as a laparoscopic procedure, through small cuts in the abdomen using precision instruments to allow the trapped fluid to drain. A course of antibiotics is likely as well.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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