You Are Diagnosed with a Kidney Cyst, Now What?

In most cases, simple kidney cysts do not cause symptoms and usually do not require treatment. However, in some cases simple kidney cysts can grow large enough and cause a dull pain in a person’s back, side or upper abdomen. These cysts can also get infected, causing pain, fever and tenderness. Yet, it’s important to stress that simple kidney cysts rarely harm kidneys or impair their ability to function.

Imaging tests that are used to diagnose simple kidney cysts include ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Blood and urine tests can also be done to determine if simple kidney cysts are impacting kidney function. If they are not causing any problems or symptoms, then your doctor may just monitor them periodically. If simple kidney cysts cause problems then treatment might be needed.

“Simple kidney cysts that are causing symptoms or blocking the normal flow of blood or urine through the kidney may need to be treated using a procedure called sclerotherapy, where the cyst is punctured using a long needle, guided by ultrasound,” explains Dr. Troy Sukkarieh, a urologist with UCA Old Bridge. “The cyst is then drained and filled with an alcohol-containing solution to harden it. The procedure is typically done on an outpatient basis with a local anesthetic.”

For cysts that are large, then a type of surgery known as a laparoscopy might be used. These surgeries are done using a laparoscope, which is a tube with a small, lighted video camera at one end. This procedure is performed by a surgeon and requires general anesthesia. During this procedure, the cyst is drained and either removed or burned in order to prevent it from coming back.

What causes simple kidney cysts?

Researchers are still not sure what causes simple kidney cysts. The kidneys have tiny tubules. These structures collect newly formed urine. Cysts may result when the tubules get blocked. Small sacs sometimes form on the tubules. These may detach and become simple kidney cysts.

If you are diagnosed with a simple kidney cyst, remember these key points:

  • Simple kidney cysts are abnormal, fluid-filled sacs that form in the kidneys.
  • Simple kidney cysts usually do not cause symptoms or harm the kidneys.
  • Most simple kidney cysts are found during imaging tests done for other reasons.
  • Treatment is not needed for simple kidney cysts that do not cause any symptoms.
  • Simple kidney cysts that are causing symptoms or blocking the flow of blood or urine through the kidney may need to be treated.