Liver cysts are pockets of fluid or air that erupt out of the liver tissue. Also called hepatic cysts, these benign growths affect about 5% of the total population in the United States. In most cases, cysts on the liver do not need to be surgically treated. In rare instances, however, surgical removal of the cysts might be necessary.
- Skill level:
Determine the type of liver cysts you have. Your doctor can help you to determine the type of cysts that you have. An ultrasound scan or CT scan are tests that your doctor will order to help him determine what type of cysts are growing on your liver. Most cysts do not require medical attention and will clear up on their own. Simple liver cysts are always benign. However, in rare instances, cystic liver tumours can occur. These are special kinds of tumours that resemble cysts and can become malignant (cancerous) over time.
Eat a healthy diet that is low in fat and includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy products. If your cysts are simple and you do not have outward symptoms such as pain or fullness in the abdomen, they will heal on their own. Asymptomatic liver cysts usually heal in several days to several weeks.
If your diagnosed non-malignant cysts are causing pain or discomfort, or if your cysts have become large or infected, schedule a surgery to have them removed.
Your doctor can advise you on the necessity of surgery to remove the cysts. He can also help you schedule the surgery date and time. The surgery is usually laparoscopic (performed through a tiny incision) and only requires one overnight hospital stay. Patients usually heal in two weeks or less from this minimally invasive surgery.
If a scan has shown that you have cystic tumours on your liver, schedule surgery to have them removed. Cystic tumours on the liver require an open-incision surgery, unlike cysts, which are removed laparoscopically. Even in cases of malignancy (cancer), the prognosis for the patient after removal of the cystic tumours is good, as most cystic tumours do not recur.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Liver Cysts
Tips and warnings
- The risk of having a recurrence of liver cysts is low. A very small portion of the population (less than 1%) have a condition called polycystic liver disease, or PLD. PLD can cause recurrent benign cysts on the liver. The only cure for PLD is a liver transplant.
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