Our liver is a dark reddish-brown, cone-shaped organ found in the upper right section of our abdominal cavity. Weighing about three pounds, our liver sits on top of our intestines, stomach, and right kidney, and underneath our diaphragm. At any given moment, our liver has about 13 percent of our blood flowing through it.
The organ’s main function is twofold: to excrete bile (a fluid that aids in digestion) and regulate the amounts of most chemicals in our blood. In addition to these primary functions, researchers have now found over 500 more essential functions our liver carries out. These include but are not limited to the production of bile, the regulation of blood clotting, as well as the clearing of drugs and other toxins from our blood.
One of the various things that can occur in our liver is the formation of cysts. The cause behind them is often unknown, and you can even be born with them.
About 5% of the population has cysts in their livers, and from this number, only about 5% will ever develop symptoms, which could include abdominal discomfort, pain, or the sensation of fullness. Cysts are thin-walled structures containing fluid; while most people have a single cyst, they could also have multiple. A few individuals could also bleed into their cyst, which would result in sudden, severe pain in their shoulder and upper right quadrant. The bleeding concludes on its own, and the pain gets better over the days that follow. Cysts are generally found by ultrasound or CT scan, though an Ezra scan could identify them as well. “Simple liver cysts” are always benign–aka harmless. The only individuals who would need treatment for a cyst in their liver are those who experience symptoms.
Cystic tumors, on the other hand, are generally growths that turn malignant over a span of several years. They are a mixture of solid and liquid portions. A benign cystic tumor that physicians often identify is referred to as a cystadenoma; a malignant cystic tumor is called a cystadenocarcinoma. Symptoms associated with cystic tumors are identical to symptoms a simple cyst may cause: pain, discomfort, and fullness. Furthermore, liver blood tests generally turn up normal unless a cancer has formed.
Ultrasounds and CT scans are also the best route for looking into cystic tumors. Because they can become harmful, cystic tumors are removed surgically. The good news is that there’s a very low chance of them returning once they’ve been removed.
The Ezra abdominal, torso, and full-body scans screen your liver for cancerous and precancerous states, as well as other conditions such as cysts. If you’re interested in learning more, you may do so here.