Splenic Cyst: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment

Splenic cysts are the most common masses of the spleen.  These are often identified on imaging studies like ultrasound and CT.   Most splenic cysts are found incidentally and are asymptomatic.   Many splenic cysts can be left alone and are benign.

What is a splenic cyst?

Splenic cysts are filled with fluid contents of varying consistency.  The contents can represent simple or complex fluid, infectious material or blood.

Splenic cyst symptoms

Most splenic cysts are asymptomatic.  Splenic cysts which are large can cause pain in the region of the spleen.  Cysts which are large can cause the entire spleen to enlarge.  Some splenic cysts which are infected can cause fever.

How is a splenic cyst diagnosed?

Splenic cysts are diagnosed on imaging studies like ultrasound, CT, and MRI.

What does a splenic cyst look like on imaging?

Splenic cysts are fluid filled masses located in the spleen.  Some cysts can have calcifications in the wall.  Cysts can have complex internal fluid or blood.

What causes a splenic cyst?

Splenic cysts can be something your born with (congenital).

Most cysts in the spleen are secondary to prior bleeding from trauma, infections and infarcts.  The end result of healing can result in cyst formation.

Splenic cysts can be caused by parasitic echinooccocus infection. This infection can cause pain and fever.  This infection is rare in North America.

Splenic cysts can be caused by pancreatitis and pseudocyst formation.

What else can look like splenic cyst in radiology?

Cystic lesions of spleen have many causes, some of which are outlined above.  Cyst of the spleen can be something you’re born with or after some kind of trauma to the spleen.  This can be infections, infarctions and bleeding from trauma.

Cysts can also represent a collection of pus or abscess.

Spread of cancer to the spleen from other part of the body can look like a cyst at times.

Most splenic tumors are solid.

Is a splenic cyst dangerous?

Most splenic cysts are benign and can be left alone.  Infectious or symptomatic cysts may need surgical treatment.

What type of doctor treats splenic cyst?

Most splenic cysts can be left alone and do not need treatment.

Splenic cysts are often discovered when imaging patients for unrelated conditions.  Therefore, many different types of doctors may manage the diagnosis.

In some cases, the radiologist may suggest imaging follow up in 6-12 months for lesions of the spleen which are not clearly benign cysts.

Surgeons may be involved in the care of patients with cysts from infections and those cysts which are painful.

Splenic cyst treatment

Most splenic cysts do not require treatment.  Infectious cysts and those which are symptomatic may require surgical removal.

Splenic cyst: summary

Splenic cysts are commonly found on imaging as incidental findings.  Splenic cysts are often unrelated to what caused the imaging to be ordered in the first place.

Splenic cysts are mostly benign.  There are multiple causes of splenic cysts.  Most are caused from prior injuries to the spleen like trauma and bleeding.

Splenic cysts are often imaged with CT and MRI.  A good patient history and prior imaging results can help establish the cause and stability.   Follow up imaging may be needed in some cases to keep an eye on the cyst when the diagnosis is not certain.

Splenic cysts are often asymptomatic and require no treatment.  Those which are large or symptomatic may require surgical removal.


Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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