Kidney Cyst

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Kidney Cysts Insurance

Our kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located just below the rib cage, one on each side of your spine behind the abdominal organs. Each kidney is about the size of a fist and is one of the body's most vital organs. The kidney's primary functions include removing wastes from our body, maintaining the body's electrolyte levels, controlling the production of red blood cells, and regulating blood pressure.

A cyst on a kidney may sound severe; however, it is not such a grim condition as one may perceive. Kidney cysts are a common occurrence and are usually harmless. These cysts are often asymptomatic, and you don't realise you have a cyst until you undergo an imaging test.

According to a study by BJU International (formerly known as the British Journal of Urology), around one in every ten individuals has had simple kidney cysts. However, the instances are higher in older people (above 50), that is, one in every five individuals.

In the below article, we shall learn more about kidney cysts, their types, causes, symptoms, treatment, etc. Medical emergencies usually come unannounced. The need for health insurance has increased with changing lifestyles leading to medical complications and increasing medical inflation. The benefits of a health insurance plan are many, including keeping you financially equipped to handle complicated medical situations.

A health insurance plan from Tata AIG offers comprehensive policies with several excellent features at affordable rates. You also get access to 7500+ hospitals, 24X7 customer assistance, a substantial cumulative bonus for claim-free years, digital processes, etc.

Kidney Cyst - What is it?

A cyst is a closed small pouch or sac filled with air, fluid or other substances. Kidney cysts are round fluid-filled sacs formed on the surface or inside the kidneys. Cysts can be so tiny that they may only be seen under a microscope, whereas some can grow too large, which may press other adjoining organs and cause pain.

The majority of these cysts are simple cysts and do not cause any complications or impair kidney function. However, as mentioned earlier, they can be painful if they become large or infected.

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is unlike simple cysts and can be a matter of concern. You must watch out for changes affecting kidney function and consult a practitioner.

Kidney Cyst Causes and Risk Factors

Kidneys have small working parts inside them called nephrons. Each nephron has a filter and a tube. The blood flows into the kidney to get filtered. The nephrons then remove waste and water, which is removed from the body as urine. The leading causes of kidney cysts are unknown; however, below are a few possible causes and risk factors:

  • They may often occur when the nephron tube enlarges, gets blocked and fills with fluid.
  • Another possible reason is that the cysts develop when the diverticula pouches form in weakened areas of the tubules and fill with fluid.
  • Age is the only known factor that may cause kidney cysts. Older people are generally more prone to getting these cysts.
  • Studies have shown that men are more likely to develop these cysts than women.
  • Simple kidney cysts are not inherited, whereas PKD is an inherited condition.

Types of Kidney Cysts

Kidney cysts can either be a simple issue, the cause for which is typically unknown, or some disease which may cause them.

Simple Kidney Cysts

Simple kidney cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can form in one or both of your kidneys. These cysts are usually round or oval and can be single or multiple cysts on and in the kidney. These cysts can be extremely tiny to the size of a tennis ball. These cysts are typically harmless, and many times people become aware of them after an imaging test is taken for other reasons.

These cysts do not enlarge or cause any functional disruption to the kidneys. However, they tend to grow bigger with advancing age and may cause discomfort or pain. However, simple kidney cysts are not cancers.

Complex Kidney Cysts

Complex kidney cysts are different from simple ones. They usually have thicker walls and may contain fluid or some other solid matter inside them. These cysts may lead to cancer.

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

This is not a type of kidney cyst but a disease which causes kidney cysts. This disease usually runs in families; they are inherited. Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) can enlarge the kidneys, causing a change in their normal structure, damaging their tissues, and disturbing their regular functioning. Over time this condition may even lead to kidney failure.

Acquired Cystic Kidney Disease (ACKD)

Acquired cystic kidney disease (ACKD) is another condition that causes cysts to grow in the kidneys. However, unlike PKD, this disease is not inherited and happens to people with chronic kidney failure and end-stage renal disease. Also, the kidneys do not get enlarged due to ACKD, and this disease typically shows no symptoms or is harmless.

Kidney Cyst Symptoms

A simple cyst is primarily asymptomatic; it may not cause any symptoms. However, if the cyst grows large or gets infected, it may show some of the below symptoms.

Symptoms of Simple Kidney Cyst

  • Pain in the side, back, or upper abdomen if they enlarge and press on other organs
  • Pain between the ribs and pelvis
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Fever, chills, or other signs of infection
  • Urinating more often than usual
  • Blood in the urine or dark urine
  • Block blood or urine flow through the kidneys or the ureters (in rare cases)
  • High blood pressure

Symptoms of Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

  • Pain in the back and side
  • Increase in the size of the abdomen
  • High blood pressure
  • Frequent bladder or urine infections
  • Blood in the urine
  • Fluttering or pounding in the chest

Kidney Cyst Complications

As mentioned, simple kidney cysts are harmless and do not cause significant complications. However, some complications may occur in rare cases. These complications include:

  • If the cysts are infected, it may lead to fever, pain and chills.
  • If the cysts burst, it can cause severe pain in the back, side or upper abdomen. It may even cause dark urine or blood in the urine.
  • Sometimes cysts can block regular urine flow, which may lead to swelling of the kidneys.
  • The complications may be severe if an individual suffers from Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). Over a period of time, this condition can damage the kidneys and their functionality. Studies have shown that about 50% of people with PKD develop kidney failure as age progresses.

Kidney Cyst Diagnosis

If you face any kidney cyst symptoms, you must visit a doctor. The doctor may ask you to perform imaging tests to confirm the cause. However, most of the time, since these cysts are asymptomatic, they are discovered if one undergoes an imaging test for some other reason. Apart from your current medical condition and family medical history, the doctor may perform a physical examination and use several tests to diagnose a kidney cyst.

Imaging Tests

A technical specialist in this area will perform some imaging tests recommended by your doctor. You can undergo these tests at an outpatient centre or a hospital. A radiologist reviews these images and shares them with your doctor to confirm the diagnosis.

These procedures do not require anaesthesia or any additional preparation. However, following your doctor's and radiologists' instructions before and during the tests is always advisable.

CT scan: A CT scan uses X-rays and computers to produce a three-dimensional picture of the kidneys to indicate if a cyst exists. Sometimes, an injection of contrast medium is given to the patient for this test. Contrast medium helps to visualise the structures inside your body easily during the test.

MRIs: Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI is a medical imaging technique that uses radio waves and strong magnetic fields to display images of the body's soft tissues and organs, including the kidneys. MRI provides more detailed pictures compared to a CT scan.

Ultrasounds: Also called sonography, this imaging method uses sound waves to produce images of the kidneys. An abdominal ultrasound can help find simple kidney cysts by producing pictures of the kidneys.

Lab Tests

Kidney function test: This type of blood or urine test checks how well the kidneys are functioning. Urinalysis: It is urine which helps to detect disorders or conditions related to kidney diseases, infections, diabetes etc.

Kidney Cyst Treatment

Generally, a cyst which does not cause any complications or show any symptoms does not require treatment. You may just be asked to undergo periodic ultrasound tests to keep a watch if the cyst is growing, causing pressure on other organs or creating any problems.

The cysts will be treated only if they cause pain, block the flow of blood or urine, or cause any other severe complications.

If the cysts are causing trouble in the regular functioning of the kidney or any other organ, the doctor may advise for kidney cyst removal or shrinking of the same. There are mainly two kidney cysts treatments commonly used.

Sclerotherapy or aspiration

This procedure is used to drain simple kidney cysts. With the help of ultrasound, the medical expert or professional inserts a long needle under the skin and into the cyst. The needle punctures the cysts and drains the fluid. A strong alcohol solution is then inserted into the cyst that hardens the area so that fluid does not accumulate further. This procedure requires local anaesthesia at an outpatient centre. The procedure may be repeated if necessary. Surgery

Removal of a cyst would require you to undergo surgery. This procedure is usually only implemented if the cysts are too large. These days, surgery for kidney cyst removal is done laparoscopically. Small holes are made in the abdomen to insert thin instruments. Using these instruments, the surgeon drains the cyst to remove the fluid and then removes or burns the cyst altogether. This procedure is conducted in a hospital by trained doctors. General anaesthesia is given for beginning the treatment, and one may be required to stay hospitalised for a day or two.

Kidney Cyst Prognosis

Simple kidney cysts are common and harmless and do not create complications. However, if they grow, sclerotherapy or laparoscopic surgery may be needed to remove them. On the contrary, Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) can be more serious. If they are left untreated or not paid attention to at the right time, it may lead to severe complications like kidney failure.

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