A cyst is a closed bladder-like structure that is not a normal part of the tissue where it is found. Cysts usually contain a gaseous, liquid, or semisolid substance and vary in size; they may be detectable only under a microscope or they can grow so large that they displace normal organs and tissues.
In the liver it ia also known as a hepatic cyst, a simple liver cyst is a thin-walled bubble, a fluid-filled cavity in the liver that usually produces no signs or symptoms. Some liver cysts do not contain fluid. Liver cysts are a relatively common condition and pose no problems or health risks. In some cases, however, liver cysts may grow large enough to cause pain or discomfort in the upper right part of the abdomen, liver enlargement, bile duct infection, or obstruction of the bile ducts, causing the cyst itself to become infected. In these cases, it is necessary to drain and/or remove the cyst. Usually, liver cysts do not cause any symptoms. Occasionally, if they become very large, they can cause liver enlargement, abdominal pain, bile duct infection, or obstruction of the bile ducts, causing the cyst itself to become infected.
- Diagnosis is usually made when tests are being done for other reasons, allowing many of the cysts to be found by "chance"
- If a cyst is suspected, many tests can be done, the easiest being CT scan or ultrasound of the liver
- The most important aspect when dealing with liver cysts is to rule out other diseases
- If necessary, a biopsy is preformed, or a sample of the fluid within the cyst is removed for analysis
The exact cause of simple liver cysts is unknown though said they may be present at birth, while others speculate that certain other conditions could be the cause:
- Caroli's disease – associated with recurrent bacterial inflammation of the bile duct, stone formation and dilatation of the intrahepatic bile ducts
- Congenital (at birth) hepatic fibrosis – a rare hereditary disorder characterized by scar tissue with irregularly shaped bile ducts and associated with an impairment of renal functions
- Choledochal cysts – congenital (at birth) abnormalities of the bile ducts
- Polycystic Kidney Disease