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Kidney Cysts: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and Home Remedies

Kidney Cysts (a.k.a: Renal Cysts) is one of the Common Kidney Diseases. 50% of cases are seen in patients above 50 years of age and 90% cases are seen in patients above 70 years of age.

Kidney Cysts

What are Kidney Cysts?

Kidney cysts are non-cancerous, fluid-filled sacs present in the kidneys. It appears as blister or bubble with liquid in it. It can be a simple cyst(s) that have unknown origin and no serious complications or a polycystic kidney disease which is an inherited condition and cause renal failure. However, kidney cysts are mostly considered as simple cysts unless it is associated with a definite cause and serious complication.

Simple cysts have thin wall and are filled with serous fluid. They usually lie near the surface of the kidney. However, they may grow in any part of the kidney such as cortex, medulla, or parenchyma. They are round or oval shaped with regular or irregular border. They can be classified into different types based on the:

  • Cause – acquired, inherited, or age factors
  • Features – simple or complicated and the number of cysts
  • Location – present in inner medulla or outer cortex of the kidney and unilateral or bilateral

What Causes Kidney Cysts?

The exact cause of simple cysts is not known. Sacs or pouches (also called diverticulum) can be formed when tubules or ducts present in the kidney are blocked or weakened. They may also occur due to weakening of surface layer of kidneys. The formed sac in later stages is filled with fluid, then detaches from the surface layer and forms cysts.

Symptoms of Kidney Cysts:

Simple cysts (< 3 cm) are commonly asymptomatic. However, some patients may experience symptoms due to larger cysts that may suppress the renal cells and surrounding tissues (impaired kidney function). Symptoms that may be seen are:

  • Pain or discomfort, occur if cysts are large
  • Hematuria (blood in urine), occur due to rupture of cysts
  • Fever, occur if there is infection
  • Frequent urination

Risk Factors of Kidney Cysts:

The incidence of simple kidney cysts increases with age. People with more than 50 years are at increased risk. Men are at high risk when compared to women.

Complications of Kidney Cysts:

Complications due to kidney cysts are rare and they can be:

  • Impaired Kidney Function: Kidney function is impaired if the cysts are large enough to damage the kidney.
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure: Renin, a hormone produced by the kidney, is responsible for maintaining blood pressure. Presence of cysts on kidney can affect renin production leading to hypertension.
  • Infection: Infection can lead to formation of abscess as the cyst will be filled with bacteria and pus
  • Bleeding: It occurs due to ruptured cysts.
  • Kidney stones: It is a very rare complication. Obstruction in the kidneys can lead to stone formation.
  • Hydronephrosis: It is a condition in which swelling of the kidneys occur, due to obstruction in the flow of urine.

Diagnosis of Kidney Cysts:

Kidney cysts are often diagnosed incidentally while looking for other conditions. The diagnostic tests that are recommended are as follows:

  • Imaging Tests: Imaging tests such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are performed. These tests help to identify presence of cysts in the kidney and rule out other conditions such as tumor.

CT and MRI scans can reveal the size, shape, and type of margins of the cyst that may help to identify simple cysts. MRI helps in producing images with higher resolution when compared to CT scan.

In case of ultrasound, absence of internal echoes indicates simple cysts.

  • Blood Tests: Kidney Function Tests are performed to evaluate the kidney function. Blood tests can also help to identify the infection.
  • Urine Tests: Urine tests are also performed if there are any symptoms such as hematuria and frequent urination. Presence of red blood cells can be seen in case of infections or rupture of cysts.

Treatments for Kidney Cysts:

Treatment is not required when cysts are less than 3 cm or patients are asymptomatic. However, regular follow-up testing is necessary to avoid complications.  If patients experience symptoms or have impaired kidney function surgery can be performed.

Surgery: It is performed to remove the cysts. A small incision is made on the skin with the help of a needle and cysts are drained out of the body. The surgeon may also fill the cysts with alcohol solution or burn the outer wall to prevent recurrence. Larger cysts present on the surface can be easily treated with surgery. There is no permanent cure and there is a risk of recurrence even after the surgery.

Antibiotics can be given if there is infection and antihypertensive medications can be given in case of high blood pressure.

Home Remedies:

For recovery from cysts, the patient should maintain healthy lifestyle modifications. Home remedies can aid in speedy recovery and avoid complications after the treatment.

  • Consume diet that consists of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, eggs, milk, and lean meat. Decrease salt and animal protein intake.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity and exercise.
  • Avoid abdominal trauma.
  • Control blood pressure.
  • Prevent urinary tract infections.
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking.
  • Be compliant with the treatment.
  • Schedule regular checkup and follow-up testing.

FAQs

  1. Can kidney cysts go away on their own?

Kidney cysts usually do not go away on their own. However, therapeutic intervention is required when cysts are large and symptomatic.

  1. What is the size of a kidney cyst?

A kidney cyst can range from very small microscopic size to 5 cm size.

  1. Can a kidney cyst cause renal cancer?

Cysts become cancerous very rarely. They are often noncancerous and don’t have serious complications.

  1. Does alcohol cause kidney cysts?

Kidney cysts are formed due to unknown reason. Alcohol doesn’t cause cysts but it can aggravate the condition leading to serious complications.

  1. Does kidney cyst cause pain?

If cysts are large, they can cause dull pain in the back. Ruptured cysts can also lead to pain and discomfort.


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