Home Health and wellness My Liver: Friend Or Foe? Polycystic Liver Disease – Why?

My Liver: Friend Or Foe? Polycystic Liver Disease – Why?

by Nadine
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Polycystic liver disease is a severe liver disease that puts one at risk for liver failure. The liver has to work harder than usual in order to detoxify the blood and break down fat, which can lead to scarring and the formation of cysts. When the cysts continue to grow larger and larger, they cause the liver to swell, which can make it difficult to breathe.

Polycystic liver disease is a severe liver disease that can lead to liver failure. The liver has to work harder than usual in order to detoxify the blood and break down fat, which can lead to scarring and the formation of cysts. When the cysts continue to grow larger and larger, they cause the liver to swell.


What is Polycystic Liver Disease?

Polycystic liver disease (PLD or PCLD) is an uncommon disorder that causes cysts (fluid-filled sacs) to form throughout the liver. A normal liver has a smooth, homogenous appearance. A polycystic liver can resemble a cluster of very enormous grapes. Cysts can also grow independently in distinct areas of the liver. If the cysts become too numerous or large, they can cause pain and health issues. However, most patients with polycystic liver disease have no symptoms and live a normal life.


Here are the polycystic liver disease facts you need to know to better comprehend the condition.

What Is the Cause of Polycystic Liver Disease?

The disorder is inherited by the majority of patients with polycystic liver disease, although PLD can emerge at random with no genetic relationship. Women are more severely afflicted by disease than males.

PLD is more common in persons with polycystic kidney disease (PCKD), and its prevalence rises with age and severe renal failure.

Most people do not realize they have PLD until they are adults when the cysts have grown large enough to be noticed. Cysts can range in size from a pinhead to nearly 4 inches wide. Similarly, your liver might remain normal in size or grow excessively enlarged.

Polycystic livers continue to operate normally regardless of the number or size of cysts and, in most circumstances, the disease is not considered life-threatening.

Because PLD is usually hereditary, if you or someone in your immediate family has it, other members of your family should be checked for it as well. Imaging studies, such as an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI, can help doctors diagnose polycystic liver disease.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Polycystic Liver Disease?

The majority of the time, persons with polycystic liver disease do not have any symptoms. However, if the liver gets extremely enlarged and bulky due to cysts, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Abdominal bloating or edema
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Feeling stuffed
  • Breathing difficulty

Only roughly one out of every ten people with PLD experiences problems as a result of it. Other issues that may occur, in addition to significant abdominal pain, include:

  • bleed into a cyst
  • Cystic infection
  • Jaundice and bile duct occlusion (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

What Is the Diagnosis of Polycystic Liver Disease?

Because symptoms do not always appear, many patients discover they have PLD by chance or after being diagnosed with a kidney condition associated with polycystic kidney disease.

The initial test used to look for the presence of liver cysts is usually an ultrasound. The presence of a few cysts does not imply that you have polycystic liver disease, as there are other, more prevalent causes of cysts in the liver. Many criteria contribute to the diagnosis of PLD, including family history, age, and the number of cysts.

  • If you have a family member with PLD, are under the age of 40, and have more than one cyst, you may be diagnosed with polycystic liver disease.
  • You have a PLD family member, are above the age of 40, and have more than three cysts.
  • You have no PLD relatives, are over the age of 40, and have more than 20 cysts.
What Is The Treatment For Polycystic Liver Disease

What Is the Treatment for Polycystic Liver Disease?

Unless you have symptoms, there is usually no need for treatment. Pain medication can be used to relieve mild pain caused by PLD. There are, however, several therapy alternatives if the cysts cause substantial discomfort or other issues. The best option for you will be determined by the severity of your discomfort, the location of the cysts, and any associated issues.

Treatment options may include

Fenestration of cysts:

If you have large cysts on the surface of your liver, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the cyst wall, a procedure known as cyst fenestration or de-roofing.

Cyst aspiration:

If a cyst is obstructing a bile duct or has grown infected, your doctor may advise you to empty it. During cyst aspiration, your doctor will use a needle or catheter to empty the fluid from the cyst or cysts, guided by ultrasound or CT imaging. Unfortunately, cyst aspiration only provides short-term relief. Cysts frequently re-fill with fluid. Sclerotherapy, a process performed following aspiration in which the cyst is injected with a hardening substance such as alcohol, may be used to damage the cyst wall and prevent fluid from reaccumulating. Antibiotics will be administered if you have an infection.

Liver resection:

If the majority of cysts are located in a certain area of the liver, your doctor may be able to surgically remove that portion of the liver to relieve pain and reduce the size of the liver. If you have a few large cysts, your doctor may be able to remove them surgically. However, if you have thousands of tiny cysts dispersed throughout your liver, liver resection is unlikely to help.

Transplantation of the liver:

In the most severe situations, a liver transplant may be an option. This treatment is usually reserved for those who have severe abdominal pain, are having difficulty eating, and whose overall quality of life is suffering. In the United States, less than 100 patients per year require a liver transplant as a result of polycystic liver disease.


Is it possible to prevent polycystic liver disease?

If you have PLD, there isn’t much you can do to avoid the formation of liver cysts. Researchers are actively investigating whether the medicines lanreotide (Samutuline) and octreotide (Sandostatin), whether administered intravenously or intramuscularly, can reduce the number of liver cysts associated with PLD. So far, the outcomes have proven inconclusive.

Don’t be concerned if you’ve lately been diagnosed with polycystic liver disease. The majority of persons with the illness have few if any, symptoms and lead normal, productive lives. Inform your doctor if you are experiencing discomfort as a result of PLD. The doctor will be able to direct you to the most appropriate treatment option.


Even when liver polycystic enlargement causes pain, the prognosis is good with treatment. Before choosing a procedure, be sure you understand your treatment options as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Although a liver polycystic diagnosis can be concerning, these polycystic Usually,  do not result in liver failure or malignancy.

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