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Ann Surg. 1998 Aug;228(2):167-72.

Tailoring the management of nonparasitic liver cysts.

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  • 1University Department of Surgery, Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, Scotland.



To determine the optimal management of symptomatic non-parasitic liver cysts.


Management options for symptomatic nonparasitic liver cysts lack substantiation through comparative studies with respect to safety and long-term effectiveness.


A retrospective review of the surgical management of patients with hepatic cysts between October 1988 and August 1997 was undertaken to determine morbidity rates and to assess long-term recurrence.


Thirty-eight patients (35 women, 3 men) underwent 48 operations for symptomatic hepatic cysts of mean diameter 12 cm, with a mean follow-up of 41 months. Twenty-three patients had simple cysts, and 15 patients had polycystic liver disease (PCLD). The symptomatic recurrence rates after laparoscopic or open deroofing for simple cysts were 8% and 29%, and for PCLD 71% and 20%, respectively. There were no symptomatic recurrences after 14 hepatic resections. There were no perisurgical deaths; however, morbidity rates were significant after laparoscopic deroofing, open deroofing, and hepatic resection (25%, 36%, and 50%, respectively).


Selection of patients with truly symptomatic hepatic cysts is crucial before considering interventional techniques. For simple cysts, radical laparoscopic deroofing is usually curative; open deroofing should be reserved for cysts inaccessible by laparoscopy. The latter technique is well tolerated; however, long-term symptom control is unpredictable in patients with PCLD. Hepatic resection for PCLD provides satisfactory long-term symptom control but has an appreciable morbidity rate. Although laparoscopic and open deroofing procedures are less reliable in the long term for solitary cysts, they might be useful steps before embarking on this major procedure.

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