Anechoic Cyst: What It Is, Main Types and When to Be Concerned
An anechoic cyst is a type of cyst whose content is not very dense, which is why it appears black on ultrasound. It is usually formed by liquid or, in the case of lung cysts, by gas. Cysts can appear anywhere on the body and often do not cause symptoms and are only discovered during routine examinations.
When analyzing cysts, it is important to understand whether they are simple or complex cysts. A simple cyst, in addition to being formed only by liquid, has a well-defined wall, and is considered benign. Unlike the simple cyst, the complex cyst has irregular walls, and is formed by other walls within the cyst itself, creating separate spaces. In addition, the complex cyst may contain other types of solid material or a mixture of solid and liquid materials. These cysts are more worrisome and therefore the problem of the simple or anechoic cyst is when it becomes more complex.
Types of anechoic cysts
There are many types of cysts, such as ovarian, breast, kidney, liver or thyroid. Thus, in the ultrasound of the abdomen and pelvis, cysts in the kidneys and liver can be observed, in the gynecological ultrasound, cysts in the ovaries can be seen and in the ultrasound of the breast, cysts can also be seen, as well as in the ultrasound of the thyroid.
In all cases, it is always important to carry out a medical evaluation, which can identify the presence of symptoms, monitor whether or not the cyst is growing or whether other characteristics are present that may raise more serious suspicions.
1. Anechoic cyst in the ovary
Ovarian cysts in most cases do not indicate any problem, as they are necessary for the development of eggs throughout the menstrual cycle, and are simple and anechoic cysts, with only a thin wall on the outside and liquid content.
When they grow, it is usually due to hormonal changes during a woman’s period, during pregnancy, or due to the use of hormonal medications such as the pill. Ovarian cyst alone does not mean pregnancy, but pregnancy can cause cysts due to hormonal changes. These cysts are usually benign and disappear spontaneously in a few months, and it is only recommended to follow up with the doctor.
However, if the cysts do not disappear, surgery to remove the cyst is an option and is usually indicated when the cyst grows a lot, causing symptoms such as pelvic pain, menstrual changes or difficulty getting pregnant, cases in which, sometimes, there is the so-called polycystic ovary syndrome and need to be treated. Read more about identifying and treating ovarian cysts.
2. Anechoic cyst in the breast
Anechoic cysts in the breast are common, and they happen due to the accumulation of fluid in the mammary gland, probably due to hormonal changes during the cycle, being usually benign. For this reason, they often appear in women of reproductive age, that is, between 15 and 50 years of age, and may also occur after menopause in women who are on hormone therapy.
As most breast cysts are simple and therefore benign, they can only be followed up by the doctor, not requiring any treatment. But when they grow too large, causing pain or discomfort, they may need to be drained to relieve symptoms.
Sometimes breast cysts can become more complex and therefore have a higher risk of being cancer. In these cases, they must be punctured by the doctor for a better assessment of their content, in order to understand the diagnosis and act accordingly. The ideal thing is for the person to know their breast nodules well, doing a routine breast self-examination and in case they feel that they are harder, less elastic, less mobile, that they have grown, or that they have other symptoms, consult the gynecologist or mastologist. Understand when breast cyst can become cancer.
3. Anechoic cyst in the kidney
Kidney cysts are most often simple, anechoic, with thin, smooth walls and liquid content, which is why they are benign. These cysts are common, do not present symptoms and usually do not generate any concern, do not need specific treatment and only follow-up by the doctor is indicated.
Sometimes these cysts can become infected, bleed or become very large and then cause symptoms such as pain in the back between the ribs and in the pelvis or abdomen, as well as fever or blood in the urine. In these cases, treatment is necessary and a doctor should be consulted quickly to be treated and thus avoid loss of kidney function.
Other times, cysts can be associated with more serious disorders such as polycystic kidney disease with loss of kidney function or even cancer. This type of cyst is not the same as simple cysts, being more complex, with thicker and irregular walls and thicker content as well. Learn more about how to identify a kidney cyst and what the warning signs are.
4. Anechoic cyst in the liver
Liver cysts that are simple and anechoic are benign and are often found incidentally on a routine exam, such as an abdominal ultrasound. They can be congenital, born with the person, or acquired throughout life due to a blow, inflammation or infection by tapeworms, for example.
Usually, this type of cyst does not cause symptoms and also regresses on its own, and the doctor usually recommends just monitoring its development. If they grow too large, they can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain or a feeling of heaviness in the abdomen and may require treatment. When it becomes complex, the person will need to be evaluated by a doctor to assess the risk of cancer.
Understand when liver cyst is dangerous.
5. Anechoic thyroid cyst
Thyroid cysts, in most cases, are not serious or cause symptoms, so much so that the person may not even realize they have them and, therefore, they are only discovered accidentally in routine exams. Thus, it is common that it is only advised to monitor the cyst and assess whether it grows or changes its characteristics.
However, there are also thyroid cysts that grow very large, to the point of becoming visible and palpable or making it difficult to swallow or even breathe. In some cases, not only do they grow, but they can also produce more hormones than normal, causing symptoms of hyperthyroidism such as weight loss, increased sweating, tremor, nervousness or increased heart rate. In these cases, medical evaluation and treatment is necessary, which depends on the type of cyst.
Thyroid cancer appears in only a small percentage of cases, especially when there is a history of thyroid cancer or any other endocrine cancer in the family, or when there has been extensive exposure to radiation in the past. A large, hard cyst that causes pain or discomfort is always more worrisome than a small, mobile cyst that only contains fluid, so it is advisable to consult an endocrinologist for a proper evaluation. Learn how to identify and treat thyroid cysts and other types of nodules.
Other types of anechoic cysts
Simple anechoic cysts can appear anywhere on the body and in all tissues, from the brain to bone and skin. In most cases, while they are small, they rarely cause any symptoms and usually disappear on their own, and the doctor just follows the case, without doing any specific treatment.
However, when the anechoic cyst grows and pushes other structures in the body, or when it suffers complications, it can lead to the appearance of symptoms and, then, they need to be evaluated and treated.
When the cyst can be serious
Most of the time, the anechoic cyst does not cause problems, and the most common is that it remains the same or decreases in size over time, and may disappear on its own. In others, it can grow or become a complex cyst.
Medical follow-up is important to assess whether the cyst is growing a lot or has changed its characteristics, becoming a complex cyst, which makes the situation more serious. However, there is no rule to know whether or not the cyst will become complicated because its characteristics vary due to several factors such as its cause, size, location and growth rate.
In this way, it is always necessary to talk to the doctor, who will be able to evaluate not only the result of the ultrasound, but also observe the symptoms, the physical examination and the risks of the person, to then indicate the best treatment, be it only monitoring or performing a surgery, for example.
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