Cysts are fluid filled sacs which may develop in different parts of the body. They are non-cancerous & are usually not harmful. However, cysts in the kidneys are a cause of concern.

If you or your loved one is diagnosed with cysts in your kidneys, consult a urologist to understand how to cut down the risk of complications.

Understanding Renal Cysts

Renal cysts are of two types

• Simple Cysts :

These are individual cysts with thin walls containing water-like fluid. These do not cause damage to the kidneys or affect their function in any way.

• Polycystic Kidney Disease:

Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder resulting in formation of multiple cysts on the kidneys. They tend to cause severe kidney damage as they grow.

In most cases, cysts do not cause any symptoms & cannot be found until a person gets a scan done for some other reason. These cysts may vary from being too tiny to be visible without a microscope to being as large as a tennis ball. Growing cysts put pressure on nearby organs causing pain.

Identifying Signs:

While most cysts do not cause any symptoms, as they get infected or grow larger there may be a few noticeable signs:

  • Need to urinate more often than usual
  • Bloody or dark urine
  • Fever
  • Dull pain in the back
  • Pain and/or swelling in the upper abdomen
Polycystic kidney disease may cause symptoms like:
  • Pain in the back or side
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Blood in urine
Analysing Causes:

The exact cause of cysts remains unknown. However, studies indicate that cysts may occur when the tiny tubules of the kidney (which collect urine) swell up, get filled with fluid or get blocked.

Cysts are more likely to occur in older adults and men are at a greater risk of developing them when compared to women.

Understanding complications:

Generally cysts are harmless, but in some cases may lead to severe complications such as:

  • Infection in the cyst
  • Burst cyst
  • Blockage of urine out of the kidney
  • Elevated blood pressure levels

Polycystic kidney disease can damage kidneys in the long run.

Diagnosing Cysts:

A blood & urine sample may be required to understand the functioning of the kidney. Certain imaging tests such as the following may also be recommended.

  • CT Scan
  • MRI
  • Ultrasound
Exploring Treatments:

If the cysts is tiny & doesn't cause any symptoms, treatment may not be necessary. However, frequent imaging tests (usually once every 6 months) have to be done make sure the cyst has not enlarged.

If the cyst is large, treatment may involve sclerotherapy or surgery. Sclerotherapy refers to puncturing & draining the cyst and then filling it with alcohol solution to prevent it from forming again. A large cyst may be removed with a laparoscopic surgery making several small incisions. The surgeon first drains the cyst and then cut & burn the walls of the cyst.