Also known as renal cysts, kidney cysts are small benign sacs that grow inside the kidneys. These sacs usually contain liquid or semi-solid material. They are usually oval or round in shape, and they vary in sizes. Oftentimes though, these kidney cysts are very small that they can only be seen through the aid of a microscope.
These kidney cysts can either be single or part of a group. Single kidney cysts are pretty common among people over 50 and usually do not pose serious health risks since they are benign rather than malignant or cancerous. They also do not have any effect on kidney functions, so treatment is not essential. There are also no kidney cyst symptoms associated with a single benign cyst. Some people even go through life without knowing that they have kidney cysts.
However, there are certain times when a single cyst can become infectious or cancerous, but these complications are very rare. There are also instances when a single cyst is so large that it can lead to kidney failure, and in these cases, treatment is very much necessary. Symptoms associated with such rare cases of single cysts include back pain or abdominal pain. Infections can only occur, hence causing pain when urinating.
The presence of multiple cysts is more alarming than single cysts, because this can already make several cyst on kidney symptoms manifest. There is such a condition known as polycystic kidney disease, in which hundreds of cysts grow in the kidneys eventually leading to kidney failure. Polycystic kidney disease symptoms include back and abdominal pain, the presence of blood in the urine, frequent urination, a burning sensation when urinating, swollen ankles, and fatigue. This condition can also be present in infants, and in these cases, abdominal or flank masses can be palpated. However, this is more common among adults between 30 to 40 years of age.
Aside from these kidney cyst symptoms, the presence of these cysts can also be detected through diagnostic tests. CT scans and ultrasounds can detect the presence of these cysts, even though these tests might have been done for different reasons. Magnetic resonance imaging can also diagnose kidney cysts.
As previously mentioned, treatment may not be required if there are no kidney cyst symptoms manifesting. However, if there is already a disruption in kidney function, treatment is usually advised. In the presence of infected kidney cysts, antibiotic therapy may be started. Large kidney cysts might need to be decompressed, which is done through inserting a needle into the kidney cyst, guided by ultrasound. This procedure requires local anaesthesia.
Severe cases of kidney cysts, especially polycystic kidney disease, may necessitate the removal of the whole kidney. Since a person has two kidneys, the person may still be able to lead a normal life, provided the other kidney is functioning normally. Otherwise, if both kidneys are damaged, kidney transplant is necessary. Since not all people are lucky enough to get a transplant, most of them have to rely on dialysis for lifelong treatment of kidney failure.
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