Kidney Cysts

Kidney Cysts


Kidney cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form on the kidneys. Some patients present with a singular cyst and some have multiple cysts on both kidneys. Individual cysts have thin walls, a watery fluid within and typically do not cause much damage to the kidneys. Poly-cystic kidney disease is a genetic condition that causes multiple cysts to form which could damage the kidneys as they grow.

Signs and symptoms

Individual cysts may cause symptoms such as fever, pain between the ribs and pelvis, abdominal swelling, frequent urination and blood in the urine. Individual cysts typically only cause symptoms if they become very large or infected. Poly-cystic kidney disease causes symptoms such as high blood pressure, back pain, headaches, urinary tract infections, blood in the urine and kidney stones.

Causes and Risk Factors

The cause of kidney cysts is still uncertain. Poly-cystic kidney disease is caused by gene mutations and is hereditary. Men appear to have a higher risk of developing kidney cysts. Many people over the age of 50 have an asymptomatic individual kidney cyst that may never be discovered unless the patient has another medical condition requiring a kidney ultrasound or CT scan.


Kidney cysts can rupture or become infected. If a kidney cyst grows very large, it could block the urinary tract and cause difficulty in urinating.


The doctor will require a physical exam and a host of medical tests to diagnose kidney cysts. The tests required will include blood tests, kidney function tests and imaging tests such as CT or MRI scans to visualise the kidney cysts.


Individual kidney cysts may not require any treatment unless they are very large and painful. The doctor may recommend simply monitoring the cyst through regular ultrasound scans. If the cyst is large and painful, surgically draining the cyst may be recommended. Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive technique, wherein a medical solution is injected into the cyst with a needle and syringe to shrink it, after it has been drained. Surgical removal of large or multiple kidney cysts is performed laparoscopically, through multiple small incisions in the skin. Specialised endoscopic cameras and surgical tools are manoeuvred through these incisions to remove the cysts with minimal damage to surrounding tissues.


As the cause is uncertain, kidney cysts cannot be prevented.

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