Get Treatment For Kidney Cysts

Great Surgical Care at Marina del Rey Hospital

Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Kidney Cysts Treatment?

At Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, our experienced nephrologists offer a wide range of diagnostic methods and treatment options for patients suffering from kidney cysts. Our specialists work with patients to choose a personalized treatment plan that best suits the patient’s condition.

The kidneys are a pair of organs located in the back of the upper abdomen, on each side of the spine. Their main function is to filter blood and to remove water-soluble waste, such as urine, which is directed to the bladder. Kidney cysts are described as a round, watery, fluid containing pouches, which appear on or inside the kidneys. Most kidney cysts are simple, non-cancerous renal cysts and they generally present no clinical signs or symptoms, nor do they require medical intervention. The main concerns for patients with symptomatic cysts are pain and impaired kidney function, especially when kidney tissues are damaged.

Surgical Procedures Performed at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Kidney Cysts

The surgical removal of kidney cysts, also called surgical cyst deroofing or decortication, is generally performed when dealing with cyst recurrence or with large cysts. The most popular technique, when performing this type of surgery, is called laparoscopic deroofing. For this procedure, several 1-2 cm incisions are made for the laparoscopic surgical instruments and for the laparoscopic camera. Drainage (aspiration) of the fluid is performed and the walls of the cyst are cut or burnt (using cauterization). This surgery is done while the patient is under general anesthesia. Additionally, the patient may require one or two days of hospitalization depending on the complexity of the procedure and on the patient’s condition.

The prognosis of simple cysts is excellent and generally, the treatment is effective and with rare complications. Only in extreme cases, when patients suffer serious kidney function impairment, partial or total nephrectomy may be necessary (usually performed via laparoscopic technique). In the rare cases of complex cysts, careful follow-up via computer tomography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound can be required to monitor the size and characteristics of the cyst or the presence of solid masses (i.e. a sign of malignancy). Sometimes, in the case of solid masses, a biopsy is required. If malignancy of the cyst is confirmed, then open surgery is performed.

Simple kidney cysts, which show no signs or symptoms and do not impair kidney function don’t usually require treatment. Routine checks or imaging tests regarding kidney cyst size should be performed periodically. In some of these cases, the cyst resolves by itself.

Drugs and Other Treatments Needed for Kidney Cysts

Drainage Of The Cyst »

There are two main types of kidney cysts: simple and complex. Doctors use the Bosniak scoring system to differentiate between simple cysts and complex cysts. Bosniak grade 1 cysts are totally benign (no cancer potential). Apart from these two major types of kidney cysts, there is also a separate type of cystic kidney disease, which is actually a development of multiple cysts found in patients with kidney failure who are treated with dialysis.

Simple Kidney Cysts »
Complex Kidney Cysts »

Symptoms of Kidney Cysts

Simple kidney cysts usually present no signs or symptoms in most cases and rarely cause any complications. However, when talking about larger sized simple cysts, the following symptoms may appear:

  • Fever
  • Hematuria (blood in the urine or dark urine)
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain in the back, sides, or in the upper abdomen (the most common symptom)

When cysts lead to complications (between 2-4% of cases) the following symptoms appear:

  • Infection of the cyst is accompanied by fever and pain
  • A burst of the cyst is accompanied by severe back and sides pain
  • Impaired kidney function (urinary flow obstruction) is accompanied by kidney swelling (hydronephrosis)

Diagnosis of Kidney Cysts

In order to efficiently detect kidney cysts and to distinguish between simple ones and complex ones, a series of imaging tests are recommended:

  • Ultrasound: sound waves are bounced off organs and the image of the organ or mass is created.
  • Computer tomography (CT) scans: use a combination of X-rays and computer technology. The result is a three-dimensional representation. For this procedure, the patient has to lie on a table that slides into a big tubular device. It may involve the injection of a special dye.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): radio waves and magnets are used; no X-rays are involved (contrary to the general opinion). It involves the injection of a contrast medium. 

Useful additional tests include:

  • Blood tests: Tests kidney functions and may reveal that kidney function is impaired by a cyst.
  • Urine tests: These tests can detect the presence of proteins and blood cells in the urine.
  • Blood pressure tests: These tests are also recommended when dealing with this affection.

Risk Factors for Kidney Cysts

  • Age: This is a major risk factor because although kidney cysts can occur at any age (even in early childhood stages), about 50% of all patients are older than 50 years old. Both the number of cysts and bilateral occurrence increase with age.
  • Sex: Male patients are more exposed.
  • Creatinine, smoking, and hypertension: Some other possible risk factors.
  • The condition is non-hereditary.

Causes of Kidney Cysts

The causes of simple kidney cysts are not yet clear. One theory explains that when the exterior layer of the kidney weakens, it forms a diverticulum (i.e. a pouch) which becomes filled with fluid and forms a cyst. Blood passes through tiny filters in the kidneys and each filter is connected to a small tube that collects urine. Another theory says that the obstruction of a tubule or a low blood supply for the kidneys could expand the tubule and a cyst would be formed. Nutrition and diet have not been shown to have any impact on the development of kidney cysts. Kidney cysts are often associated with high blood pressure, however, the nature of the relationship between the two is not clear yet (i.e. which one of them might be the cause of the other).

Several natural remedies are cited by various alternative medicine sources for improving kidney function, but their effects have not been analyzed or proven yet, such as:

  • Citrus fruit: Some new studies claim that grapefruit and other citrus fruits might have a beneficial effect in the prevention of kidney conditions. However, these results have not been confirmed. 
  • Osmotherapy: Despite there not being any scientific evidence regarding the beneficial effects of this Chinese medicine technique, it has been claimed that it can stop the cyst’s growth and shrink it as a result of micronized herbs infiltration into the kidneys (through the skin).
  • Low-sodium diet: Try to limit your salt intake as much as possible by avoiding salty food, especially snacks and treats.
  • Fewer proteins: Proteins can have a negative effect on the kidneys, and although you cannot quit proteins entirely, you can try to eat less of them.
  • Flaxseed oil, selenium, and vitamin E: These substances are known to have a beneficial effect similar to raw fruits and vegetable juices and are recommended for people with larger kidney cysts, as they might help shrink these cysts and prevent their complications.

It is generally thought that the formation of kidney cysts cannot be prevented. However, certain lifestyle modifications can help with improving the kidney’s health and protection, such as:

  • Drinking plenty of liquids (water and infusions)
  • Adjusting the right quantity of salt according to your medical conditions
  • Trying to avoid pickled, spicy, and polluted food
  • Opting for higher quality proteins

In the case of confirmed cysts, in order to prevent further problems, one should avoid doing extreme physical activities or any abdominal exercises to avoid rupture.

After treatment, regrowth of the cysts may occur. As a result, your doctor may use sclerosing agents or cauterization in order to prevent that from happening.

Do you suspect you might have kidney cysts? You can always learn more about kidney problems and how to treat them by getting in touch with our highly-skilled specialists at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital.

Appointments & Follow-Up Care at Marina del Rey Hospital

Request an Appointment