Authored by Sandy Rothra in Diseases
Published on 10-06-2009
The kidneys filter the blood and remove wastes from the body through urination. Cysts, filled with fluid, sometimes form on the kidneys. If a kidney cyst is discovered, your doctor will want to monitor it for problems and changes. You may notice pain in your side, belly, or back. Your doctor will ask about frequent urination, blood in your urine and fever. If any of these symptoms develop, your doctor may order periodic CT or MRI scans of the kidneys to monitor cyst growth and changes.
Simple Kidney Cysts: In older people, small cysts sometimes form in the kidneys. These simple kidney cysts are usually benign, and most people never know they have them. The cysts are found accidently when testing for another problem. According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC), nearly thirty percent of people over seventy years of age have simple cysts on their kidneys, which cause no symptoms and need no treatment. Simple kidney cysts may cause pain if they become large enough to press on other organs. If they become infected, bleed, or weaken kidney function, treatment may be necessary. Your doctor may want to drain the cyst using a long needle inserted through the skin. Less often, surgical removal is needed.
Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (PKD): This is a genetic condition, passed from one parent, which causes many cysts and damages kidney function. Although PKD may begin in young people or even children, it usually takes many years to become a serious problem. The first symptoms often do not show up until the thirties. About half of all PKD patients will eventually need a kidney transplant or dialysis. The first symptoms of these kidney cysts are headaches and pain in the side or back. Your doctor will check for urinary tract infections, blood in the urine, high blood pressure, heart valve damage, kidney stones, aneurysms, or diverticulosis. Treatment is directed at relieving symptoms and prolonging life. Urinary tract infections can be treated with antibiotics. High blood pressure must be kept under control. If the kidneys fail after many years, dialysis or transplantation will be necessary.
Autosomal recessive PKD: This genetic condition is passed from two parents. Unlike the first two conditions, it often causes kidney failure in infants, sometimes even before birth. Some symptoms of autosomal recessive PKD are high blood pressure, urinary tract infections, liver and spleen problems, and slow growth rate. Treatment for this cause of kidney cysts consists of treating the symptoms. Medication may control high blood pressure and infections. Nutrition or growth hormone may be used for growth. Because of increased risk of damage to the liver, an ultimate transplant may combine liver and kidney.
Kidney cyst symptoms may be cause for concern and should be monitored by your doctor. Simple kidney cysts may need no treatment, but it is important to watch for increased size and treat symptoms as they occur. PKD is nearly always progressive. Your doctor will want to monitor progress and control the symptoms as they occur, in order to avoid damage to other organs.