A liver cyst is a small fluid-filled growth that develops within the lining of the liver. In most cases, a single cyst develops and usually causes no problems for the individual. However, some people experience a much heavier occurrence of these cysts, resulting in a condition known as polycystic liver disease. With this disorder, the liver suffers a collection of cysts, causing the organ to enlarge and triggering the retention of fluids. Regardless of the number, liver cysts are never cancerous but can produce distressing symptoms in its sufferers.
For most people, a liver cyst causes no symptoms at all. This is largely due to the fact that these small protrusions typically form as a sole growth, never affecting the function and health of the liver. Fortunately, of all the cases of liver cysts, the majority (around 95 percent) never display symptoms of the condition.
Of those people who develop symptoms of liver cysts, pain is by far the most common of them all. This pain is typically isolated to the abdominal region and ranges in discomfort from dull to sharp. For some, this pain is felt in the upper right side of the abdomen or even the shoulder, which is often an indication that the cyst has prompted bleeding. Yet this symptom isn't always felt strictly as pain, instead it can manifest as an abdominal fullness.
Sometimes, a liver cyst causes the liver to swell. In this situation, a person may notice some abdominal distention due to the increased pressure caused by the swollen liver. But this distention is usually subtle and a relatively rare symptom of the condition.
Since the liver cysts rarely cause any problems, many people are never treated for the condition. It isn't until symptoms manifest that surgery becomes an option. With liver cysts, a portion of the cyst is removed, so it can no longer fill with fluid. And according the Cleveland Clinic, it is very rare to experience a recurrence.
Polycystic Liver Disease
With polycystic liver disease, the symptoms are the same as liver cysts, except sometimes much more severe. However, treatment is much different for this condition, as there are far too many cysts to surgically repair. In this situation, the only way to treat the disease is completely remove the liver and replace it with a new one.