Liver Cyst

Cyst in the liver is one of the most common conditions that patients are referred to us. Fortunately, most of such cysts are simple cysts and no treatment is required. On the other hand, some cysts are complex and further investigations and treatment may be recommended by your doctor.

Understand your problem

Liver cysts are sacs filled with fluid in the liver. In most cases, liver cysts are found by accident on ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scans during a health check up.


Simple Liver Cysts most commonly refers to non-parasitic, non-neoplastic (non-tumour) cysts of the liver. They may occur as a single cyst, or as a small number of cysts scattered in different parts of the liver. When they are multiple, they may represent a syndrome known as polycystic liver disease.


Most simple liver cysts have no symptoms. They are usually small. They may increase in size at a very slow rate over a person’s lifetime. Cysts larger than 5 cm may produce symptoms.


These symptoms may include:


  • Dull aching pain over the upper abdominal area
  • Feeling of bloatedness
  • Patient may actually feel a lump over the liver
  • Severe pain may indicate infection of the cyst, bleeding into the cyst or rupture of the cyst. Rarely, a cyst compressing onto the main bile duct may cause jaundice.


On the other hand, based on the ultrasound or CT scan pictures, the cyst may be classified as complex. In such cases, further investigations may be required.


Some complex cysts have a risk of turning cancerous. Your surgeon will advise you appropriately.

Seek for treatment

Simple liver cysts should be treated only when they are symptomatic. Asymptomatic cysts can be left alone, since complications arising from such cysts are rare.


The optimal treatment of symptomatic cyst is to partially remove the wall of the cyst to allow drainage of the cyst into the abdominal cavity. This is now performed mostly through laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery. The chance of recurrence of cysts treated surgically is low.


Aspiration of the cyst contents, even when combined with alcohol ablation of the cyst wall has high recurrence rate, and is not recommended.


The risk of asymptomatic cysts getting bigger in size and eventually causing symptoms is low. Hence there is no need for long-term follow-up of cysts that have been diagnosed as simple liver cysts.


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