Hepatic cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop within the liver, resulting in the formation of non-cancerous, benign lesions. These cysts can vary in size, ranging from being very small to many centimetres in diameter. 

Hepatic cysts are typically categorized into two types: simple cysts and complex cysts.

Simple Cysts

These are the most common type of hepatic cysts and are usually benign and asymptomatic. They do not typically require treatment unless they become large and cause discomfort or other complications.

Complex Cysts

These cysts may have irregularities, such as septations, solid components, or calcifications, and can sometimes raise concerns about the possibility of malignancy. 

Complex cysts may require further evaluation and monitoring to determine their nature and the need for treatment. Some types of complex cysts (e.g., biliary cystadenoma) have a risk of transformation into cancer and may require surgery.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of hepatic cysts is often unknown. However, some cysts may be congenital, while others may develop later in life. Certain risk factors, such as a history of polycystic liver disease or a family history of hepatic cysts, may increase the likelihood of developing these lesions.



In many cases, hepatic cysts do not produce any noticeable symptoms. However, if the cysts are large or numerous, they may cause the following:

  • Pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen
  • A feeling of fullness or bloating
  • Nausea



Hepatic cysts are often diagnosed incidentally during imaging tests, such as ultrasounds, CT scans, or MRIs, performed for unrelated health concerns. Larger, symptomatic cysts may be diagnosed after imaging also. These imaging techniques help visualize the liver and identify any abnormalities, providing essential information about the size, location, and characteristics of the hepatic cysts.



Treatment for hepatic cysts is generally unnecessary, especially if the cysts are small, asymptomatic, and not causing any complications. However, in cases where the cysts are large, causing discomfort, or raising concerns, treatment options may include:

  • Drainage and/ or deroofing of the cysts which is often done either laparoscopically or robotically
  • Surgical removal of the cysts with accompanying formal liver resection. This can often also be done via laparoscopic/ robotic techniques

Regular follow-up visits with a healthcare provider are essential for individuals diagnosed with hepatic cysts, particularly for monitoring any changes in the size or characteristics of the cysts. This ensures prompt detection of any potential complications and allows for timely management and treatment if necessary.

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