A cyst is a fluid-filled sac. You may get simple kidney cysts as you age; they are usually harmless. There are also some diseases which cause kidney cysts. One type is polycystic kidney disease (PKD). It runs in families. In PKD, many cysts grow in the kidneys. This can enlarge the kidneys and make them work poorly. About half of people with the most common type of PKD end up with kidney failure. PKD also causes cysts in other parts of the body, such as the liver.
Often, there are no symptoms at first. Later, symptoms include
- Pain in the back and lower sides
- Blood in the urine
Doctors diagnose PKD with imaging tests and family history. There is no cure. Treatments can help with symptoms and complications. They include medicines and lifestyle changes, and if there is kidney failure, dialysis or kidney transplants.
Acquired cystic kidney disease (ACKD) happens in people who have chronic kidney disease, especially if they are on dialysis. Unlike PKD, the kidneys are normal sized, and cysts do not form in other parts of the body. ACKD often has no symptoms. Usually, the cysts are harmless and do not need treatment. If they do cause complications, treatments include medicines, draining the cysts, or surgery.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
- Genetics Home Reference: Meckel syndrome (National Library of Medicine)
- Genetics Home Reference: medullary cystic kidney disease type 1 (National Library of Medicine)
- Genetics Home Reference: nephronophthisis (National Library of Medicine)
- Genetics Home Reference: polycystic kidney disease (National Library of Medicine)
Videos and Tutorials
- What Is Polycystic Kidney Disease? (Dolan DNA Learning Center)
Statistics and Research
- Kidney Disease Statistics for the United States (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: How does contrast-enhanced ultrasonography influence Bosniak classification for complex cystic renal...
- Article: Monkeys mutant for PKD1 recapitulate human autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease.
- Article: Evaluation of liver-type fatty acid binding protein (L-FABP) and interleukin 6...
- Kidney Cysts -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Find a Urologist (Urology Care Foundation)
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
- Kidney Dysplasia (National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse)