A cyst is a sac-like growth on the body, which normally contain fluid or semi-solid material. Cysts can occur anywhere in the body where cyst formation is possible like in soft tissues such as organs and soft structures in the musculoskeletal system. Cysts vary in size and may range from small microscopic cysts to large ones that can actually press on or displace major organs in the body.
Cysts consist of a capsular portion that divides it from the nearby tissues. The cysts are often contained in a capsule, which is called the cyst wall. Cysts are either malignant or benign depending on the cause of its formation. Cyst development is usually caused by the following etiologic factors:
Cysts can arise from infections wherein the dead cells from the action of the immune system become enclosed in a capsule. Cysts from infections are usually the result of infected wounds or infections on surgical sites that does not allow the dead cellular debris to escape the body.
Tumors are another cause of cysts formation. These tumors can be benign or malignant in nature. Benign cysts are usually caused by blockages in ducts in the body, which allows fluid to collect on capsule walls. Malignant tumors also result in multiple cysts or single cyst inside the tumor itself. Cysts that are malignant include dermoid cysts and keratocysts.
• Genetic aberrations
Presence of genetic conditions can also cause cyst formation. For instance, Trichilemmal and pilar cysts are familial cysts that develop among families with genetic changes.
• Chronic inflammation
Chronic inflammation may also cause cyst formations overtime. Vocal fold cysts develop as a result of chronic irritation and inflammation of the vocal folds.
• Obstruction in ducts
Once ducts are obstructed, the fluid that normally escapes the ducts build-up inside causing the formation of fluid-filled cysts. Bartholin’s cysts or the cyst formation in the Bartholin’s ducts in women are caused by obstruction of the duct near the vagina as a result of recurrent trauma or infection. Acne is also a type of cysts as a result of the obstruction of the skin pores by microorganism, dead skin cells, oil and dirt.
The proliferation of intestinal parasites may also cause cyst formation. Tapeworm or Echinococcus granulosus usually yield Hydatid cyst when the parasite is in the larval stage.
• Embryonical defects
During the development of the embryo during the first trimester of pregnancy, faults in development may arise from teratogens or other reasons. As a result, cyst formation may develop as early as this stage. An example of which is Gartner’s duct cyst, which is a cyst formation in the vulva or the vagina during the embryonic development.
• Cells defects
Cell defects as a result of the rapid proliferation (hyperplasia) or increase in the number of cells in a particular area of the body can also lead to cysts. For instance, hyperplasia in the kidney cells may possibly lead to renal cysts
Physical trauma may cause the blood vessels to break that can cause cysts formation from the blood the leaks the tissues.
Cysts may be both symptomatic and asymptomatic. Cysts that grow adjacent to major organs may cause significant symptoms. When located on superficial areas of the body such as the skin or soft tissue structures, cysts may or may not cause symptoms. Cysts are usually treated using surgical removal when the cysts tend to be bothersome. Nevertheless, some cysts may not require surgery.