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Woman's Tummy Pains Due To 26-Centimeter Cyst With 6 Liters Of Fluid

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Justine Alford

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979 Woman's Tummy Pains Due To 26-Centimeter Cyst With 6 Liters Of Fluid
Her distended stomach was a cyst, not her obesity. © 2016 by the BMJ Publishing Group Ltd

Some people blame cupcakes for the extra pounds, others marriage and children. But in this case, the cause was something totally bizarre: a ginormous abdominal cyst. 

Described in BMJ Case Reports, a 22-year-old woman with a body mass index of 40, so classified as “morbidly obese,” repeatedly went to her doctor in the U.K. because her stomach was distended and tender. Each time she went in, her GP told her the symptoms were down to her obesity, and it wasn’t until she started experiencing pain in her loins that she was eventually referred to the hospital.


Here, she was given an ultrasound as a standard bedside investigation to rule out anything sinister. Namely, the main concern was that it could be a tumor, study author Dr. Partha Ray from James Paget University Hospital told IFLScience.

And while it didn’t look like a tumor, what they did find came as a bit of a surprise.

“It didn’t measure up that it was just her obesity. It was thought she had kidney stones – we didn’t expect to find what we did,” Ray told IFLScience. “The ultrasound showed a big fluid-filled sac where there shouldn’t be fluid. But that was the extent of it.”

With the need for a more definitive investigation, the patient was sent for a CT scan, which confirmed that the woman had a humongous cyst in her abdomen, measuring a staggering 26 x 26 x 21 centimeters (10 x 10 x 8.2 inches). After the woman became septic, she was sent to surgery where the cyst was removed, taking with it six liters of fluid.


While Ray said that the woman did have underlying obesity, so the cyst was by no means the only cause of her weight problems, the take-home message here is that GPs will often send overweight patients away because it’s just assumed that the obesity is to blame for the morbidity they present.

“Referring a patient to hospital doesn’t take much effort,” Ray said. “And ultrasounds are cheap and cost-efficient, and in this case we found something we normally wouldn’t have.” 


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