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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.