What is a kidney cyst?

A kidney cyst is a small sac of fluid that develops in the kidneys. This type of cyst comes in two types: a simple kidney cyst, which is an oval-shaped fluid-filled sac, and a complex kidney cyst, which is not in the traditional oval shape and could be cancerous. Kidney cysts are usually the result of the aging process and are rarely malignant; many people have them without even knowing it. They can also result from polycystic kidney disease, an inherited condition marked by regular kidney infections.

No one is sure what causes a simple kidney cyst that is not the result of polycystic kidney disease. It is believed to be a natural byproduct of organ aging. Complex kidney cysts can be symptomatic of larger problems with the kidneys, indicating potentially serious health problems in the kidneys themselves or in other areas of the body.

A simple kidney cyst is very small and circular in shape. The cyst wall itself is traditionally light and does not harbor irregular markings or indications. The fluid inside the cyst is clear or yellow in color. It is estimated that 50% of adults have these benign cysts by the time they reach 50 years of age.

Complex renal cysts have irregularities in the shape or within the cyst. Walls called septa are frequently seen within a complex kidney cyst. Cysts of this variety are considered much more serious than the simple type and may be indicative of kidney cancer or other critical health problems.

While a simple kidney cyst will rarely cause telltale signs, the symptoms of a complex kidney cyst can give some telltale signs. These include a dull, generalized pain in the back or side, pain in the upper region of the stomach, and fever. Although kidney cysts commonly develop as an individual ages, they can affect anyone of any age without discrimination.

Kidney cyst treatment is usually not necessary for simple cysts. Complex cysts are usually perforated, allowing fluid to drain from the sac. Once the fluid has been removed, an alcohol-containing solution is injected into the deflated wall; This ensures that the cyst does not come back. The larger or more serious complex varieties will involve the removal of kidney cysts through a surgical process. During surgery, a small video camera is inserted into the kidney region, allowing the surgeon to target the cyst and remove it completely.

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