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Understanding Liver Cysts

Liver cysts, which are also referred to as hepatic cysts are solitary fluid-filled nonparasitic sacs.  They are usually asymptomatic and benign in nature and are also called as simple cysts. It is essential to however, diagnosing these cyst early on, to render proper treatment to parasitic and cancerous tumors. They are often discovered during a routine abdominal imaging procedure like computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Once diagnosed, treatment alternatives usually involve minimally invasive surgical techniques. It should be known that there are many cysts beyond simple cysts that are found in the liver. There are multiple cysts, parasitic cysts, cystic tumors & abscesses and treatment alternatives will vary as per the type of the cyst detected in the liver.

Simple liver cysts are congenital in presence and usually formed by abnormal bile duct cells during the embryo’s development. These liver cysts contain a bile-like fluid and are covered with a thin layer of epithelial cells. They generally measure less than 3 cm in diameter do not affect liver function and may remain asymptomatic for years.  It is only when the cyst becomes enlarged, does it become a cause of worry as it can rupture or push against other organs, causing bloating, a feeling of fullness, and a sudden pain in the upper right abdominal region.

Amongst the other liver cysts, Parasitic cysts are quite common and are caused by infection caused by species of tapeworm. Human beings are infected by consumption of the parasite’s eggs found commonly in excrement of the animal s like sheep and dogs. Parasitic cysts cause fever, bloody sputum, and severe skin itching.

Cystadenoma and Cystadenocarcinoma are other types of cysts that represent benign and cancerous cystic tumors, respectively. Cystadenomas resemble simple cysts in that they are of epithelial origin and present from birth. However, the exact mechanism by which benign cysts become cancerous is unknown and subject to further research. Cystadenocarcinomas have a slow growth.

Most cysts do not require treatment and may subside or get removed on their own. The ones that become cancerous or enlarged in size may have to be removed surgically. Fluid drainage may also  be performed, but the effect is only temporary.

 

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