Liver & intrahepatic bile ducts

Developmental anomalies / cysts

Solitary cyst

Topic Completed: 1 April 2012

Minor changes: 3 January 2020

Copyright: 2002-2020,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Solitary cyst[TI] liver

Komal Arora, M.D.
Page views in 2020: 5,939
Page views in 2021 to date: 7,327
Cite this page: Arora K. Solitary cyst. website. Accessed November 27th, 2021.
Definition / general
  • Also called unilocular, simple or congenital cyst
  • Not associated with cysts in other organs
  • 80% occur in women
  • Usually incidental finding; may be due to von Meyenburg complexes that separate from biliary tree and dilate
  • 20x more common than cystadenomas; present in 14% of autopsies if looked for
  • Complications are torsion, hemorrhage, rupture, compression of adjacent biliary tree
  • Carcinoma rarely arises in these cysts (HPB Surg 1992;5:203)
  • Excision, sclerotherapy, cyst fenestration
Gross description
  • Single, unilocular cyst, usually subcapsular or in falciform ligament
  • 2 - 40 cm with flat glistening lining
  • Variable amounts of clear amber fluid (may contain blood, bile, mucus, pus)
  • Usually separate from biliary tree
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Lined by biliary type epithelium (flat / cuboidal), occasionally ciliated (called foregut cyst) or squamous lined (epidermoid cyst)
  • Epithelium rests on thin collagenous wall without spindle cell stroma
  • Degenerative changes include epithelial desquamation, multiloculation, calcification
Back to top
Image 01 Image 02