Kidney Cyst Causes & Treatment

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Renal cysts, otherwise known as kidney cysts, are growths that are fairly common in older adults. The are two types of kidney cysts and the majority that adults develop tend to be harmless. Doctors have yet to determine kidney cyst causes, and in the rare instance that a kidney cyst is harmful, there are a number of relatively simple treatments that can effectively remove the cyst.

Kidney Cyst Causes & Treatment - PKD

The Types of Kidney Cysts

Simple kidney cysts are harmless pockets of fluid that form either on the outer layer or within the kidney. They usually cause no symptoms, however, there are occasional complications that can develop such as:

  • An infected cyst
  • A ruptured cyst
  • Swelling of the kidney

Should these rare instances occur, symptoms can include fever, dull pain, obstructed urine flow, blood in the urine, or the need to urinate frequently.

The other type of kidney cysts are the malignant growths associated with polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a genetic disorder. Dangerous clusters of cysts enlarge the kidney, disrupt the internal structure, and impair kidney function over time. It can take many years for these cysts to develop to a size large enough to cause noticeable symptoms and those with the disease have often been afflicted for years before being diagnosed.   

Diagnosing Kidney Cysts

Both simple kidney cysts and the PKD-related cysts can go undetected for years. They are most often found during imaging tests for other examinations such as:

  • CT scans
  • MRIs
  • Abdominal or Pelvic Ultrasounds
  • Kidney function tests
  • Urinalysis

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Kidney Cyst Causes & Treatment

The medical field has yet to determine why or how these abnormalities develop, but lifestyle and diet do not seem to be factors that affect their likelihood. Instead, it seems that age and gender have the most significant impact. Males over 50 being the most likely to form kidney cysts (although older women are closely behind).

Treatment of a simple kidney cyst is usually unnecessary, but if the cysts are showing symptoms – such as causing pain or obstructing urine flow – you should contact a medical professional.

Sclerotherapy is the most common procedure for the removal of kidney cysts. The sac of fluid is drained with a needle and a saline solution is injected into the affected area. This causes the kidney tissue to harden in order to prevent the development of future cysts.

Surgery might be necessary for the rare occasion of an extremely large cyst. If this is the case, a doctor removes or drains the sac with a small knife to make a minimal incision. In the instance that a kidney cyst is infected, the patient must undergo antibiotic treatments before the cyst can be treated by either sclerotherapy or surgery.  

Contact a doctor f you or a loved one are concerned about having a kidney cyst, simple or otherwise. Knowledgeable medical professionals can assist you right here in the Los Angeles area. The Urgent Med Network has 13 locations where they can assist kidney cyst diagnosis with a quick X-ray examination and have you in and out on your lunch break.