What are kidney cysts and should you be worried if you might have one? Kidney cysts are small fluid filled sacs that appear inside the kidneys. Some cysts may be filled with air or calcium deposits. They are most common in people who are 50 years and older. Nearly all simple kidney cysts are benign which means that they are non cancerous. Most people who develop kidney cysts will not have any complications due to the cysts and many people may go through life not even realizing they have kidney cysts.
Diagnosis: Most kidney cysts are found through the use of CT scans or MRI. They are often found while running tests for other reasons. This means that many kidney cysts go undetected unless the patient is having a CT or MRI done for other reasons. When found, almost all kidney cysts receive a good diagnosis, are considered benign and only rarely require surgery.
Symptoms: Many people with kidney cysts may never become aware that they have cysts. People with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) often develop kidney cysts due to this disease. People who have PKD often display symptoms such as blood in the urine, high blood pressure, pain in the back and sides, and frequent kidney infections. These symptoms may or not appear in all patients with PKD. It is important to point out that having kidney cysts does not mean a person has PKD, most kidney cysts are harmless.
In some cases the cyst may grow over time, if it does grow and urination becomes painful or difficult or the person experiences side and back pain the cyst may need to be removed. Some cysts may have calcium deposits in them, which if released into the kidney can cause kidney stones.
Treatment: Some doctors will want to monitor the cyst if it has any calcium deposits in or around it, if the cyst has a risk of becoming cancerous, or if the person experiences pain or problems due to the cyst. In the rare case that the cyst needs to be removed or examined in more depth, your doctor will refer you to a urologist. Removal of a cyst is generally done with a laparoscope which allows for a minimally invasive surgery and quick recovery.
Kidney cysts occur in around 50 percent of people over age 50 and often go undetected and are rarely dangerous. The majority of kidney cysts turn out to be non-cancerous. If you have any concerns or questions, experience blood in the urine or pain and discomfort you’ll want to contact your doctor for more information.