Kidney Cyst

1 What is Kidney Cyst?

Kidney cysts are noncancerous cysts characterized by the development of fluid filled pouches within kidney.

Such cysts rarely cause complications. However, there are a number of associated disorders that may impair the renal functions. Usually only one cyst occurs on the surface of the kidney which differentiates this disease from polycystic kidney disease where multiple cysts can occur on the surface of same kidney.

Diagnosis of kidney cysts has become easier with the development of sophisticated imaging devices. Symptoms are less frequent and require no immediate actions unless they worsen.

Causes of such cysts are yet to be brought into light.

2 Symptoms

Simple kidney cysts are typically asymptomatic. However, complicated and highly developed cysts may exhibit following symptoms:

When to see a Doctor

Visit you doctor if you experience persistent pain and signs of complications.

3 Causes

Exact causes of kidney cysts have not been identified yet.

As suggested by a theory, it develops due to a weak surface layer of the kidney which initiates the formation of pouch (diverticulum). Such pouch then fills with fluid, gets detached from the surface and develops into a cyst.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Kidney cysts rarely show signs and symptoms, so in most of the cases, simple kidney cysts may be diagnosed during an imaging test for another disease. It is better to ask your doctor about the impacts of this disease on your overall health. Expand your knowledge on kidney cysts to deal with the existing condition.

How to prepare yourself for the visit?

Getting prepared for the visit can optimize the therapy and help make the visit more fruitful.

List out all the symptoms.

Write down your key medical information.

Write down the names of all your medications, vitamins or supplements.

Make a list of the questions to ask your doctor. Some typical questions can be:

  • Is my kidney cyst big?
  • Is it a new cyst or the one that has been visible on previous scans?
  • Does it have any chances to grow further?
  • What signs or symptoms may indicate the kidney cyst is growing?
  • Can it affect my kidney?
  • Are my other symptoms associated with kidney cysts?
  • Does it need to be removed?
  • What are my treatment options and their possible risks?
  • Do you advise me to visit a specialist?
  • Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
  • Could you recommend me the sources of information regarding my disease like any printed materials or name of authentic websites?
  • Will I need a follow-up visit?

What your doctor wants to know?

A clear talk with your doctor can optimize the therapy and improve the outcomes. Prepare yourself to answer some essential questions from your doctor. Your doctor might ask you typical questions like:

  • Have you noticed any symptoms? If so, how long have you been experiencing those symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms worsened over time?
  • Have you noticed blood in your urine?
  • Do you feel any pain in your back or sides?
  • Are you suffering from fever or chills?
  • Do you have any other medical conditions?
  • Are you currently taking any medications, vitamins or supplements?

Following tests and procedures are used to diagnose simple kidney cysts:

  • Imaging tests: Using imaging tests like an ultrasound, a computerized tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), your doctor can differentiate between a cyst and a tumor.
  • Kidney function tests: Blood test is carried out to determine if the kidneys are functioning normally. An abnormal kidney function test result could indicate cysts.

5 Treatment

As long as the kidney cysts are not producing any symptoms or interfering with your kidney function, no treatment is needed. However, regular imaging tests are suggested to observe the size of cysts. Sometimes, your cysts can resolve without any treatment. Treatment is necessary when cysts are large and manifest signs and symptoms. Some treatment approaches are as follows:

  • Puncturing and draining the cyst and filling it with alcohol: A long, thin needle is inserted through the wall of the kidney cyst. Fluids are drained away and replaced by an alcohol solution. Alcohol prevents pouches from forming again.
  • Surgery to remove the cyst: Large or symptomatic cysts are removed through surgical procedures. Your surgeon inserts special tools including a video camera through the incisions in your skin. Under guidance from the video, your surgeon uses the tools to drain fluid from the cyst. A short hospital stay may be recommended after the surgery if required.

6 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with kidney cyst.


  • Age: Though it may affect people of any age, older people are at higher risk of developing kidney cysts.
  • Sex: Men are more likely to develop kidney cysts compared to women.


  • Infection: The cyst may be infected and cause fever and pain.
  • Burst cyst: Severe pain in your back or side may result due to bursting of cysts.
  • Urine obstruction: A kidney cyst can block normal flow of urine and may lead to swelling of the kidney (hydronephrosis).