Liver cysts are thin-walled, fluid-filled cavities in the liver that are detected by ultrasounds or CT scans. Patients may have one cyst or multiple cysts. Some liver cysts are present from birth; other liver cysts can be indicative of a more serious condition. These conditions include liver cancer, polycystic liver disease or a parasitic infection. Cysts can cause a range of symptoms from abdominal fullness to discomfort or pain. Most liver cysts are benign, or hepatic, and do not require treatment. However, patients are evaluated for the types of cysts present before a course of treatment is recommended.
Cystic liver lesions include simple cysts, multiple cysts arising in the setting of polycystic liver disease, abscesses, parasitic or echinococcal cysts and cystic tumors. These conditions can usually be distinguished by the basis of the patient's symptoms and the radiographic appearance of the lesion. Patients who require treatment for cysts may have problematic symptoms or pain, but this typically occurs in only 5 percent of those who suffer from liver cysts. In these cases, the cysts must be removed because puncturing them and removing fluid with a needle is not effective; they fill with fluid again in a few days. The most effective traditional treatment is to remove a large portion of the cyst wall laparoscopically with two or three small incisions; patients typically fully recover within two weeks. Most cysts do not return after the treatment.
Cysts that do not cause the patient pain or further complications are generally not treated medically and are common, particularly in aging individuals. Patients with typical hepatic cysts are advised to change dietary habits and lead a healthier lifestyle to avoid further complications or liver disease.
Although painful cysts are usually treated laproscopically without more invasive types of surgery, some patients opt to shrink smaller cysts and prevent future cysts with changes in diet. Recommended dietary changes include avoiding or limiting dairy products, trans fats and margarines, deep fried or fatty foods, meats with additives, antibiotics and hormones, and avoiding alcohol. Additionally, those suffering from liver cysts are advised to drink a lot of water. Because the liver processes toxins and helps digest alcohol, keeping the body hydrated and avoiding additional toxins such as caffeine or synthetic hormones can help.
Organic cures for liver cysts include a combination of herbs taken in capsule or liquid ("tonic") form. Herbs that are most beneficial for reducing or eliminating liver cysts include dandelion, milk thistle, globe artichoke, slippery elm and taurine. Additionally, selenium, flaxseed oil and vitamin E are recommended along with raw fruits and vegetable juices. Supplements and raw juices are recommended in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle to help shrink large cysts and keep them from causing further complications.
Those with a history of cysts should avoid any additional toxins to prevent further cysts from occurring. Cigarette smoke, heavy cleaners or fumes, insecticides and high doses of over-the-counter pain medications can help prevent additional cysts.
Kendall Olsen has been writing for more than 20 years She is a University of Missouri-St. Louis Gateway Writing Project Fellow and has published instructional materials with the McDonald Publishing Company. Olsen holds an Ed.S. in educational technology, an M.Ed. in secondary English curriculum and instruction, a B.S. in elementary education and a B.A. in art history.