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Tuesday, December 09, 2008 gray lady, Community Member, asks

Q: Do kidney cysts cause pain in the kidney area?

I recently had an arterial kidney scan done to check on a stent that was placed there 2 years ago.  The stent is still open; but the doctor mentioned that I had cysts in both my kidneys and my liver.  He said that we may need to do another check on the liver in about 6 months to see if they had changed, but did not seem concerned about the kidney cysts.  My kidney and liver function tests are both normal.  However, I have been experiencing some discomfort in the kidney area for several months now and the pain seems to be getting more severe.  It only seems to hurt at night and is usually a dull ache.  It seems to spasm when I turn over or get up.   Any suggestions as to what this could be?

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Answers (1)
Martin Cane, M.D., Health Pro
12/12/08 10:27am

gray lady,


Thanks for your question.  It sounds like your doctor is right on the mark as to what needs to be followed.  Kidney (renal) cysts are very common.  They can be multiple and range in size from a pea to a grapefruit.  Ultrasounds are very accurate in determining whether these are simple cysts or something more serious.  Renal cysts rarely cause problems or pain, but in some patients there is discomfort and the cyst(s) need to be drained, which is a simple procedure done under ultrasound guidance. 


You should discuss your discomfort with your physician and get his input.  I really cannot tell what your discomfort is due to without the benefit of taking your history and examining you.  A consultation with a urologist may be needed to help determine whether the cysts are the cause or not.


Liver cysts, as your doctor has indicated, should be followed up.  If the size remains the same, then less surveillance will be required in the future, but a six month check is the right course for now. 


I hope this information has been helpful.  Best wishes and feel better.


Martin Cane, M.D.



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By gray lady, Community Member— Last Modified: 11/17/10, First Published: 12/09/08