Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Polycystic Liver Disease: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Polycystic liver disease (PLD or PCLD) is a rare condition that causes cysts -- fluid-filled sacs -- to grow throughout the liver. A normal liver has a smooth, uniform appearance. A polycystic liver can look like a cluster of very large grapes. Cysts also can grow independently in different parts of the liver. The cysts, if they get too numerous or large, may cause discomfort and health complications. But most people with polycystic liver disease do not have symptoms and live a normal life.

Here are the facts about polycystic liver disease you need to better understand the condition.

Recommended Related to Digestive Disorders

Ulcerative Colitis 101

Living with ulcerative colitis isn’t always easy -- it can mean dealing with symptoms such as rectal bleeding, and finding a life-long treatment that reduces inflammation and ulcerations in the lining of the colon. While the causes of ulcerative colitis (UC) are generally unknown, understanding the disease can help minimize its impact on your quality of life. Here are the facts about ulcerative colitis that can help you better manage this chronic condition, unraveled by gastroenterologist Eric...

Read the Ulcerative Colitis 101 article > >

What Causes Polycystic Liver Disease?

The majority of people with polycystic liver disease inherit the condition, but PLD can occur randomly with no genetic link. Women are affected more often than men and tend to have more cysts.

PLD is most common in people who have polycystic kidney disease (PCKD), with its frequency increasing with age and advanced renal disease.

Most people don't discover they have PLD until they are adults, when the cysts become large enough to detect. Cysts can vary in size from no bigger than a pinhead to almost 4 inches wide. Likewise, your liver can stay its normal size or become extremely enlarged. No matter the number or size of cysts, polycystic livers continue to function normally and the disease is not considered life threatening.

Because it's inherited, if you or someone in your immediate family has PLD, other family members should be tested for it. Doctors can diagnose polycystic liver disease with imaging studies, such as ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI.

What Are the Symptoms of Polycystic Liver Disease?

Most of the time, people with polycystic liver disease have no symptoms. However, if the liver becomes enlarged and riddled with cysts, symptoms may include:

Only about one out of every 10 people with PLD has problems associated with it. In addition to severe abdominal pain, other complications may include:

  • Bleeding into a cyst
  • Infection of a cyst
  • Bile duct obstruction and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

man holding his stomach
Get the facts on common problems.
blueberries in a palm
Best and worst foods.
woman shopping
Learn what foods to avoid.
fresh and dried plums
Will it help constipation?
top foods for probiotics
couple eating at cafe
sick child
Woman blowing bubble gum

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Woman with crohns in pain
Woman with stomach pain
diet for diverticulitis
what causes diarrhea