Pancreatic Cysts

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Forming in the head, body, or tail of the pancreas, pancreatic cysts are pools of fluid. They are categorised as either true cysts, which are lined by a layer of cells that dispense the fluid which fill up the cysts. In addition to true cysts, there are pseudo cysts, so called because they do not possess the lining cells that true cysts have. Therefore, it can be said that most pancreatic cysts are not technically true cysts. Pancreatic cysts are on the whole benign, but some can be cancerous, so if you suspect you have a pancreatic cyst, make sure you book an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.


Symptoms of pancreatic cysts vary depending on their magnitude and their location on the body. If you have a small cyst, it is unlikely to have any symptoms. Large pancreatic cysts can be more problematic however; if they grow to a large extent they can affect the tissue and nerves around the pancreas, potentially leading to jaundice due to blockage of the common duct. This obstruction means bile collects and forces bilirubin back into the bloodstream.  If you have jaundice you will know by a yellowing of your skin, which can become unsightly. Another symptom is when your urine is significantly darker than normal. If large pseudo cysts form due to acute pancreatitis, it can mean the pseudo cysts can squash the stomach or the duodenum. This could well lead to vomiting, abdominal pain, or blockage of the path to the intestines. A further danger is that that these cysts can become infected.  


If the cyst is acute and painful, then it is treated either through needle aspiration (draining the liquid contents inside the cyst through the use of a needle and syringe). Alternatively, a pancreatic cyst can be surgically removed. This procedure virtually guarantees a non-recurrence of further cysts, and your doctor will decide on the best procedure.

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