What Is It?
A kidney cyst (renal cyst) is a fluid collection within the kidney. They are quite common, and the incidence increases with advancing age.
Most kidney cysts are “simple” or “benign” meaning no treatment is required. Some cysts are more “complex” and require either close radiographic imaging (with either a CT scan or MRI) or surgery since these cysts can be cancerous.
Kidney cysts may be part of a genetic disease that results in a slow, progressive decrease in kidney function. In this scenario, there is usually a family history of kidney disease.
Symptoms of Kidney Cysts
Quite commonly, no symptoms are present in individuals with renal cysts. They are usually discovered during an imaging study (ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI) obtained for some other reason such as abdominal pain.
Conversely, some individuals with large or multiple renal cysts may experience blood in the urine (hematuria), flank pain, high blood pressure and fever (if the cyst becomes infected).
Evaluation and Treatment
If a kidney cyst is determined to be “simple”, no further evaluation is necessary.
When the kidney cyst is “complex” and removal of the cyst or the entire kidney is advised, this can usually be accomplished using a minimally-invasive approach such as laparoscopic or robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery.
In cases of large kidney cysts, an open procedure to remove the kidney may be advised.