Causes of Lung Cysts and Its Treatment, Prognosis

What Are Lung Cysts?

A Lung Cyst is medically termed as Pulmonary Cyst. However, unlike other cysts which contain fluids in majority of the cases Lung Cyst contain gas. These cysts can develop during the normal process of aging but in some cases may indicate an underlying medical condition. There are a variety of causes for Lung Cysts and some of them may lead to potentially serious complications if not diagnosed and treated appropriately. [1, 2, 3]

A Lung Cyst is approximately 2-3 mm in thickness and is generally round in shape. Sometimes, these cysts may also contain solids or fluids aside from gas. A Lung Cyst can be classified into the following based on an article published way back in 2010. [3]

Blebs and Bullae: This name is given to accumulation of gas in between the lung and its outer surface. While blebs are less than 1 cm in diameter bullae can be greater than 1 cm in diameter. Bullae tend to grow in size with time and at times can even encompass the entire lobe of the lung. [3]

Honeycombing: This is a form of Lung Cyst in which there are multiple cysts of varying sizes resembling a honeycomb. [3]

Pneumatocele: This type of Lung Cysts forms after a trauma or injury to the lungs or as a result of medical conditions like pneumonia. Inhaling certain toxic gases can also result in a person having pneumatocele. [3]

Causes of Lung Cysts and Its Treatment

There is quite a bit of research which suggests that Lung Cysts tend to develop during the normal process of ageing. However, some people develop it as a result of underlying medical conditions like cystic lung disease. Some of the causes and their treatment options of Lung Cysts include: [3]

  1. Birt-Hogg-Dubé Syndrome: This is an extremely rare genetic condition which develops as a result of certain gene mutations. This was initially believed to be a dermatological condition but later on it was found out that it caused Lung Cysts. This syndrome generally causes blebs and bullae in more than 90% of patients. [3]

    Treatment: Since Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome is a genetic condition there is no cure for it. However surgical procedure in the form of a blebectomy is quite effective in getting rid of the Lung Cysts. [3]

  2. Lymphangioleiomyomatosis: This is also a rare medical condition which occurs almost exclusively in females. It is the lungs that are mostly affected by this disorder but at times the lymphatic system and the renal system also can be affected. Genetic mutations resulting in a change in the LAM cells is believed to be the cause of this condition resulting in these cells growing throughout the lungs. The abnormal growth of these cells forms cysts which interrupts adequate supply of oxygen in the body. [3]

    The symptoms of lymphangioleiomyomatosis can be observed between the age of 20 and 40 and include chest pain with inspiration, persistent fatigue, pneumothorax, problems breathing, wheezing, and frequent bouts of cough. [3]

    Treatment: The primary treatment for this condition includes administration of bronchodilators to facilitate breathing and oxygen therapy. These treatments are symptomatic however the only cure for this condition is a lung transplant. [3]

  3. Pulmonary Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis: This is yet another cause for Lung Cysts. The cysts formed by this disorder may measure up to 10 mm in diameter and in some cases even 20 mm. This condition is mostly seen in chronic smokers constituting about 90% of all diagnosed cases. The symptoms include shortness of breath, fever, night sweats, unintentional weight loss and dry cough. [3]

    Treatment: Quitting smoking is the best possible treatment for this condition. In fact, it causes the person to go into complete remission. Aside from that as of now there is no other treatment for this disease. [3]

  4. Lymphocytic Interstitial Pneumonia: Aside from Lung Cysts, this condition also causes unintentional weight loss, breathlessness, fever, and cough. Lung Cysts seen with this condition generally are observed in both lungs and can measure up to 3 cm in diameter. [3]

    Treatment: The treatment depends on the underlying cause of this disease. [3]

  5. Other Causes: Aside from what has been mentioned above, there are also some other causes for Lung Cysts. These include amyloidosis, pneumonia, and certain forms of cancer like squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma. All these conditions can cause Lung Cysts. [3]

What are the Symptoms of Lung Cysts?

The symptoms caused by Lung Cysts depend on the underlying cause of it. In some cases, these cysts may be completely asymptomatic. A person with Lung Cysts however may at times experience problems with breathing, pain with breathing, and wheezing. These people may also develop frequent pneumonia as well. [3]

What is the Prognosis of Lung Cysts?

If there is just one Lung Cysts then it should not be a cause of worry as it may develop due to the normal process of ageing. However, if the size of the cyst is growing and there is more than one cyst involved encompassing a vast majority of the lungs then it is the cause that determines the prognosis of it. [3]

The most common complication that can occur as a result of Lung Cysts includes a collapsed lung or pneumothorax. These are emergent medical conditions and require immediate treatment. A visit to a physician is recommended if a person has a family history of Lung Cysts or a condition that increases the likelihood of a person having them. [3]

This will require close screening with chest radiographs to look for any signs of Lung Cysts and start treatment for it before any undue complications such as a collapsed lung develops. [3]

In conclusion, Lung Cysts are medically referred to as Pulmonary Cysts. They are usually not a cause of concern and develop during the normal process of ageing. However, if the size of the cyst keeps increasing or envelops the entire lung then it needs to be treated. [1, 2, 3]

The treatment for Lung Cysts depends on the cause of it which has been mentioned in detail above along with the treatment protocol. Primary symptoms for Lung Cysts are shortness of breath and cough. It is suggested that if a person has a family history of Lung Cysts then it is better to consult with a physician and do regular screenings with radiographs to check for the presence of Lung Cysts. [1, 2, 3]