What is pseudocyst?

A pseudocyst is a cystic lesion that may appear as a cyst on scans, but does not have the normal cell lining of a cyst. Pseudocysts may form in a number of places, including the pancreas, abdomen, adrenal gland, and eye.

Symptoms and complications caused by pseudocysts usually require surgery. Endoscopic drainage is a popular and effective method of treating pseudocysts. Computed tomography (CT) scans are used for initial diagnosis and endoscopic ultrasounds are used in differentiating between cysts and pseudocysts.

How common is pseudocyst?

Pseudocysts are often caused by acute or chronic pancreatitis (inflamation in the pancrea). Pseudocysts are more often present in chronic pancreatitis patients than acute pancreatitis patients. Also, if the pancreatitis is alcohol induced, there is a higher incidence of pseudocysts. Children often has pseudocyst from a trauma to the abdomen.

However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of pseudocyst?

Symptoms are more common in larger pseudocysts, though the size and time present usually are poor indicators of potential complications. A patient with pancreatic pseudocysts may experience abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, a bloated feeling, and trouble eating or digesting food. They also may become infected, be rupture, or block part of the intestine. Rarely, the infected pseudocyst causes jaundice or sepsis.

Mediastinal pseudocysts, a rare form of pancreatic pseudocysts in the abdomen, may show dysphagia, dyspnea, airway obstruction, or cardiac tamponade.

In term of adrenal pseudocysts, they may cause abdominal pain, along with various gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and constipation.

When should I see my doctor?

Early diagnosis and treatment can stop pseudocysts from worsening and prevent another medical emergency, so talk to your doctor as soon as possible to prevent this serious condition.


What causes pseudocyst?

The cause of most pancreatic cysts as well as other kind of cysts is unknown. Some cysts are associated with rare illnesses including von Hippel-Lindau disease, a genetic disorder that can affect the pancreas and other organs. Pseudocysts often follow a bout of a painful condition in which digestive enzymes become prematurely active and irritate the pancreas (pancreatitis). Pseudocysts can also result from injury to the abdomen, such as from a car accident.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for pseudocyst?

Heavy alcohol use and gallstones are risk factors for pancreatitis, and pancreatitis is a risk factor for pseudocysts. Abdominal injury is also a risk factor for pseudocysts.

Diagnosis & Treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.


How is pseudocyst diagnosed?

Pancreatic pseudocysts

The most common and effective method to diagnose a pancreatic pseudocyst is with a CT scan. A pseudocyst generally appears as a fluid-filled mass. In some instances, other methods must be used to distinguish between a normal cyst and a pseudocyst. This is usually accomplished with endoscopic ultrasound or with fine needle aspiration. Transabdominal ultrasound can be used to identify pseudocysts, which appear on the scan as echoic structures associated with distal acoustic enhancement. They tend to be round and enclosed in a smooth wall. Pseudocysts may appear more complex when young, hemorrhaged, or when complicated due to infection.

CT scans are more accurate, and provide more detail regarding the pseudocyst and its surroundings. The CT scan’s weakness is its lack of differentiation between pseudocysts and cystic neoplasm. Also, the intravenous contrast given at the time of the CT scan may worsen kidney dysfunction.

Besides CT scans, MRI and MRCP are also effective methods of detecting pseudocysts, but are not regularly used because CT scans offer most of the needed information. These scans do, however, provide better contrast, which allows for better characterization of fluid collections, depicting debris within the collections, and detection of bleeding.

Endoscopic ultrasound is generally used as a secondary test to further evaluate the cysts found in other tests, and is used when it is used to determine if a cyst is a pseudocyst or not.

Adrenal pseudocysts

Adrenal pseudocysts are detected in much the same way as pancreatic pseudocysts, with CT scans. In addition, adrenalectomies are used to diagnose the lesion and sometimes relieve pain.

How is pseudocyst treated?               

Not all cysts require treatment. Many pancreatic pseudocysts improve and disappear by themselves. If the cysts are small and are not causing symptoms, careful observation with periodic CT scans is often done. Pseudocysts that persist over many months or that cause symptoms require treatment.

  • Supportive medical care used to help small pseudocysts go away includes the use of intravenous fluids, analgesics.
  • Surgery is usually required in the treatment for patient experiencing pseudocysts with symptoms or complications. There are three main methods for draining a pancreatic pseudocyst: endoscopic drainage, percutaneous catheter drainage, or open surgery. Endoscopic drainage tends to be the preferred method due to it being less invasive and having a high long-term success rate.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage pseudocyst?

Because pseudocysts are closely related to other conditions, such as pancreatitis and alcohol use, the prevention of pseudocysts lies in the prevention of the main problem. Therefore, avoiding drinking too much alcohol is highly recommended.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: February 26, 2017 | Last Modified: March 14, 2017

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