Simple Kidney Cysts
The truth of the matter, however, is that the simple kidney cyst is one condition that is fairly common, especially as we age. We may develop one - or several - and they rarely cause symptoms or problems. They are not malignant, they generally have little to no impact on kidney function, and they usually need no treatment.
While simple kidney cysts are common and rarely a problem, that condition is not to be confused with Polycystic Kidney Disease. PKD is a hereditary condition affecting around 600,000 people in the United States. It is quite serious, and the fourth leading cause of kidney failure. PKD causes a large number of cysts to grow within the kidneys (and often, other organs, as well.) Since it is a hereditary condition, people at risk for PKD generally know about it early on and undergo regular treatment.
With Simple Kidney Cysts, they are often not even known about unless they grow large enough to cause a dull pain, located in the back, upper abdomen, or side. In rare cases, the cyst can get infected, causing fever and pain. But most of the time, they are found only because the patient is seeking treatment for something else, and as long as the cyst isn't causing an issue, they are generally left untreated.
When treatment is needed for a Simple Kidney Cyst that is causing symptoms or blocking normal blood flow, the most common form of treatment is an out-patient procedure called Sclerotherapy. Guided by ultrasound, a long needle is used to puncture the cyst. The cyst is then drained and filled with a solution that contains alcohol, which causes the cyst to harden.
If the cyst is particularly large, it may require surgery. In this case, a Laparoscopy is performed. A Laparoscope is a tube with a small, lighted camera at one end. Under general anesthesia, the cyst is drained and then either removed or burned to keep it from developing again. A Laparoscopy generally requires a hospital stay of one to two days.
You need not be afraid of Simple Kidney Cysts. The majority of the time, they cause no problems and need no treatment. If they do, the forms of treatment are relatively simple and low risk. If you do feel pain or pressure in your back, sides, or abdomen, be sure and see your doctor. If there is anything wrong, the sooner you catch it, the easier it is to treat!
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