Cysts that form on the kidneys usually contain fluid. One or more cysts may develop on small tubes in the kidneys. The simple kidney cyst is different from the cysts that develop when a person has polycystic kidney disease, which is a genetic disease. Simple kidney cysts become more common as people age. Nearly 30 percent of people over the age of 70 have at least one simple kidney cyst. Most often, simple cysts do not cause symptoms or harm the kidney. In some cases, however, pain can occur when cysts enlarge and press on other organs. Sometimes cysts become infected or suddenly start to bleed. Less often the cysts impair kidney function. People with simple cysts are often found to have high blood pressure.
If cysts cause symptoms, treatment may be needed. One procedure involves puncturing the cyst using a long needle inserted through the skin. The doctor uses ultrasonography to guide the needle to the cyst. The cyst is drained and then filled with a solution containing alcohol to make the tissue harder.
If the cyst is large, surgery may be needed. Most procedures can be performed using a laparoscope, which allows for a smaller incision and quicker recovery. The surgeon drains the cyst then removes or burns away its outer tissue. Most patients stay in the hospital 1 or 2 days.
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