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Symptoms of liver cysts

Updated April 17, 2017

Liver cysts are small growths that form beneath the surface of the liver. Individual cysts that grow in the liver are usually benign and cause almost no health risks. However, there are cases when multiple cysts form and resulting in a condition called "polycystic liver disease." As a result of this condition, the liver grows larger and begins to retain fluids, causing it to malfunction. Liver cysts are not cancerous, but still they can produce pain and discomfort to the person suffering from them.

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The formation of liver cysts is not easily detected because they initially exhibit no symptoms at all. This can be attributed to the fact that the protrusions are small enough not to effect the normal health and functions of the organ. In most cases, the cysts are left untreated as they are not typically problematic or life threatening.


Pain is the most common symptom that occurs when liver cysts begin to grow and starts to effect the liver's normal health and activity. The pain is usually isolated in the abdominal area and produces discomfort at different times of the day. Some people suffer from extreme pains in the abdomen that can span up to the shoulder. This indicates that the cysts have already initiated organ bleeding. According to the Cleveland Clinic, only 5 per cent of the American population develops liver cysts, and only 5 per cent of sufferers ever feel any noticeable symptoms.


While most cysts are benign, some of them can cause the liver to swell and enlarge. At this point, the patient may begin to suffer from abdominal distension due to the pressure brought about by the liver pushing towards other parts of the abdomen. Fortunately, liver distension is a rare occurrence and is usually subtle, even when the swelling has already taken place.


Liver cysts generally do not require treatment, as they rarely present health risks. In some cases, however, once the symptoms begin to develop, surgery may be required to treat the problem. The growths then need to be removed in order for them not to retain fluid. The need for surgical treatment is also seldom, and the potential for the cysts to recur is very low. In any case, sufferers are advised to check with a certified health professional to determine the best course of action.


In cases where multiple cysts form, the patient may suffer a condition called polycystic liver disease. The symptoms of this condition are similar to that of individual cyst formations, but more severe. Treatment for the disease is different because the cysts are already too numerous to be removed by surgical incision. The only method recommended to treat polycystic liver disease is conducting a liver transplant where the whole liver is removed and replaced with a new one coming from a donor.

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About the Author

Hailing from Arizona, William Hanz has been writing on a wide variety of subjects for nearly 2 years. His articles have appeared on several popular websites such as AssociatedContent.com. Hanz attended the University of Arizona majoring in computer science with a minor in English.

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