Liver Cyst


Liver cysts are sacs filled with fluid in the liver. In most cases, liver cysts are found by chance on ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scans when a person goes for a health check-up.

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

Spider Vein Treatment Procedure


Most simple liver cysts have no symptoms. Simple Liver Cyst  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.

Simple liver cysts 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 such as

  • Dull aching pain over the upper abdominal area
  • Feeling of bloatedness
  • A lump is felt over the liver
  • Severe pain which may indicate an infection of the cyst, bleeding into the cyst or rupture of the cyst
  • Jaundice caused by the cyst compressing on the main bile duct. However, this is rare.

When to Seek 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.

On the other hand, if the cyst manifests some suspicious features, the doctor may recommend treatment even if the person does not experience any symptoms.

As opposed to simple liver cysts, such cysts with suspicious features are called complex cysts. Some complex cysts have a risk of turning cancerous.


Ultrasound can detect and diagnose liver cysts. Ultrasound can also be used to follow-up on such cysts.

If a cyst shows suspicious features, the doctor may order a MRI to better evaluate this cyst and determine if there is a chance of cancer.


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.

Symptomatic Cysts

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 performed through laparoscopic surgery or keyhole surgery.

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

Asymptomatic Cysts

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.


Although simple liver cyst is a very common condition, the underlying reason why a person has such a cyst is often unknown.

For those with multiple liver cysts, also called polycystic liver disease, this may be a hereditary condition passed down from either the father or the mother.

Risk Factors


Consult Our Doctor

Dr Ho Choon Kiat
Senior Consultant HepatoBiliary, Pancreas & General Surgeon

MBBS (Singapore), FRCS (Edin), FRCS (Glasg), M.Med (Surgery), FRCSEd (Gen), FAMS (Surgery) Adjunct Assistant Professor, NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine


Avoiding standing still for long periods will reduce the pressure in the veins in the legs. For people who need to stand for long periods at work, wearing compression stockings will reduce the pressure build up in the legs.

The ultrasound will be done of the legs from the thigh to the calves. Please wear or bring along a pair of shorts to change into for the scan.

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