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Understanding Polycystic Liver Disease 

Polycystic liver disease (PLD) is a rare condition characterized by the presence of cysts, or fluid-filled sacs, growing throughout the liver. Cysts on the liver can appear sporadically or in large clumps. They can vary in size, from as small as a pinhead to almost 4 inches wide. The condition is usually inherited, but it can occur randomly in some people with no genetic link.

Tampa General Hospital’s Liver Disease and Hepatology Program offers a full range of surgical and non-surgical care to patients with polycystic liver disease and other types of liver dysfunction. Our hepatology specialists have an unparalleled level of experience addressing liver diseases – even the most uncommon and complex cases – allowing us to provide world-class treatment and outcomes for our patients. Contact TGH’s Liver Disease and Hepatology Program at 1-800-505-7769 to learn about our approach to polycystic liver disease or use our Physician Finder to quickly locate a specialist.

What are the Symptoms of Polycystic Liver Disease? 

If you have been diagnosed with polycystic liver disease, you may not exhibit symptoms. However, if your liver is covered with cysts and becomes enlarged, you could experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, swelling or bloating of the abdomen or a constant feeling of being full. In some instances, there may also be complications of polycystic liver disease in which liver function is affected. These complications include bleeding into a cyst, an infection of a cyst or bile duct obstruction and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin).

Polycystic Liver Disease Treatment Options

If symptoms are causing you significant discomfort or are affecting your liver function, there are several treatment options available. These can include:

  • Cyst fenestration – Also known as de-roofing, this surgical process removes the wall of the cyst. This treatment works best on large cysts located on the surface of the liver.
  • Cyst aspiration – Used when a cyst is blocking a bile duct or has become infected, this treatment drains the fluid from a cyst using a needle or catheter. However, cyst aspiration provides only temporary relief, as cysts tend to fill back up with fluid. To prevent this, a sclerotherapy procedure, in which a hardening substance is injected into the cyst after it has been drained, may be necessary.
  • Liver resection – When the majority of cysts are concentrated in a particular area of the liver, it may be possible to surgically remove part of the liver to relieve pain. Liver resection can also be used to remove large cysts that may not be grouped together.
  • Liver transplant – If other treatments cannot be performed or fail to provide symptom relief, a liver transplant could be an option if you are in severe pain, have trouble eating and your quality of life is significantly affected. TGH’s Transplant Institute currently has some of the lowest organ transplant wait times in the country.

Take the next step – contact TGH’s Liver Disease and Hepatology Program at 1-800-505-7769 to learn more about our services for patients with polycystic liver disease. A referral is not required to visit TGH, though a gastroenterologist, your personal physician or even another hospital may refer you.