Causes & Treatment of a Small Liver Cyst

Updated February 21, 2017

Liver cysts are small, fluid-filled sacs that form on your liver, the organ responsible for producing proteins and chemicals used in digestion and other bodily processes and removing toxins from your bloodstream. Liver cysts occur in approximately five per cent of Americans, according to the Cleveland Clinic.


Some small liver cysts appear to be present from birth, while infrequently, small liver cysts occur because of a serious illness, such as polycystic liver disease, parasitic infections and even liver cancer. In many cases, doctors never determine the cause of small liver cysts, explains the Mayo Clinic.

Reasons for Treatment

Approximately 95 per cent people never develop any symptoms from small liver cysts and may never discover the presence of the cysts, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The other 5 per cent of people experience symptoms like stomach pain or discomfort and require treatment.

Common Treatment

Surgical removal of all or part of the cyst is the most common treatment for small liver cysts present at birth or formed due to unknown causes. In most cases, doctors make two or three tiny incisions in your abdomen and use a camera to guide their work.


Because small liver cyst surgery requires only small incisions, only an overnight stay in the hospital is typically required, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Most patients recover fully within two weeks of treatment.


Patients who develop small liver cysts due to polycystic liver disease typically require a liver transplant to prevent the return of the growths, explains the Cleveland Clinic. Although rare, there is a risk that typical small liver cysts will return in the future, requiring a second surgery.

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About the Author

Faith Davies has been writing professionally since 1996, contributing to various websites. She holds an LAH insurance license in the state of Pennsylvania and has experience as a bank branch manager and lending officer. Davies graduated cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts in art history.