What is an Abdominal Cyst?

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  • Written By: Karyn Maier
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 January 2019
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A cyst is an overgrowth of the epithelium, specialized cells that reside on the surface of tissue, such as organs and glands. Once formed, they often become detached from the point of origin and circulate, although they may also become lodged between tissue structures and cause pressure. They generally appear as sacs or lumps surrounded by a thin membrane and consist of fluid or semi-solid material. While most cysts are benign, the development of an abdominal cyst may signal an underlying disease. Prognosis is usually favorable if detected and treated early, however.

There are several types of abdominal cysts. One of the most common is an ovarian cyst, which forms on ovarian follicles. In fact, the majority of women will develop ovarian cysts at some point, usually during their childbearing years. Even though most ovarian cysts are benign, they can cause pain and bleeding. Fortunately, they can be treated and surgically removed if they become too large.

Mesenteric cysts are another type of abdominal cyst that may indicate impaired lymphatic functioning. This kind of cyst is so named because they develop in the mesentery, the area of the peritoneum that encompasses the gastrointestinal tract and extends from the duodenum to the rectum. In addition, these cysts may involve any of the organs of the retroperitoneum, such as the bladder and kidneys. This type of cyst is somewhat rare, occurring in only about one in 140,000 people.


Another kind of abdominal cyst is termed omental. This type of cyst generally occurs in the anterior abdominal wall in the regions of the stomach and colon. Like mesenteric cysts, they are also rather rare. In addition, they can usually be removed without having to resection the stomach or colon.

Another type of cyst that is far more common is the fetal abdominal cyst, which occurs in neonatal infants and is usually detected by ultrasound before birth. While this may sound alarming, fetal abdominal cysts are actually considered normal in a female fetus due to the circulation of elevated hormone levels. In fact, these cysts dissolve shortly after birth. Unless they become very large and pose a threat of cutting off blood supply to the infant, intervention is rare. Furthermore, frequent ultrasound imaging can detect the formation of cancers from these kinds of cysts, but this occurrence is also very rare.

While most abdominal cysts are not dangerous, they should not be ignored. Due to the simple fact that some cysts can grow from the size of a pea to a grapefruit over time, they can sometimes present complications. Pain, unexplained bleeding, bowl obstruction, and distension of the stomach or other organs, should be investigated without delay.


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Discuss this Article

Post 10

I am not sure if what I have is a cyst, but there is a fluid pocket that is noisily squishy when I push on it. It's only when I am standing, but I am afraid of what it might be. Any ideas?

Post 9

I have cysts in my stomach from taking insulin shots. If there are no blood veins in the stomach, why do these bleed when punctured by a needle and is this dangerous?

Post 8

I am not pregnant (I don't think) and I feel something at the side of my pelvic area. It feels like a small lump, and I didn't feel it until recently (two days ago). It didn't hurt at the time, but now that I am aware of it, when I touch it, sometimes I feel it more defined and when I lean on something I feel it. I hope this is nothing serious, but why would I have a small lump there? It's not visible either, but I can definitely feel it.

Post 7

I need your help please. In 2008, I noticed something wrong on my left side which made me think it was a lump but I wasn't sure yet. Last year, I had surgery on my right breast and the finding was fibroids. Now, the lump on my right side seems to be growing and sometimes I feel pain.

I can't go to see the doctor because I am afraid the physician will say I need to have surgery again and it scares me. I hate 'surgery'. All I want is to melt/remove this lump on my right side but I do not know how.

Post 6

The doctor removed a six inch by eight inch cyst from my abdomen, leaving a deep incision for drainage. It has been four months. For the fourth time after not draining for two and up to six weeks, I get extremely sick, shaking, incontinent, fever, it starts streaming out. Why?

Post 4

I'm 35 weeks pregnant and a cyst in my baby's abdominal area has been detected. the so far size is 8cm. i am very much worried because of the growing size. There is still a month to go and if the size does not stop increasing, then what? anybody have the same case?

Post 3

@cmsmith10:An abdominal cyst can be very painful. They vary in size, from tiny to up to 40 cm. If it is a large cyst, it can be detected fairly easy through an ultrasound. The pain is caused when the cyst starts growing. It puts pressure on the surrounding organs causing terrible discomfort. It may present with an abdominal mass, vomiting, bleeding, or stomach distention.

A mesenteric abdominal cyst occurs in the mesentery. It extends over the duodenum and up to the rectum. This can be caused from the lymphatic system not functioning correctly. The occurrence is only about 1 in 140,000 people.

There can be various complications that can arise from a cyst and many require surgical removal.

Post 2

Has anyone ever heard of a mesenteric abdominal cyst? My aunt was diagnosed with that and I had never heard of it. The doctor told her it was rare.

Post 1

This article is correct about not ignoring any symptoms. No matter how scared you may be to hear the word cancer, it’s always better to find out as early as possible. My best friend had heavier and very painful periods for six months and didn’t go see her doctor. One Saturday morning she couldn’t urinate and she was in extreme pain. She went to the emergency room that evening and they drained almost two liters of urine from her bladder! The ultrasound showed a large ovarian cyst; a biopsy was immediately performed. After three scary days we found it was benign and she had surgery to remove the softball sized cyst. If you notice any changes in your body functions, sharp pains, lumps or anything out of the ordinary, please schedule to see your doctor at once. Early detection may be the key to saving your life.

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