Simple Renal Cyst

Chapter: Simple Renal Cyst
McMaster Section Editor(s): Christine M. Ribic, Karen C.Y. To
Section Editor(s) in Interna Szczeklika: Franciszek Kokot, Robert Drabczyk
McMaster Author(s): Matthew B. Lanktree
Author(s) in Interna Szczeklika: Michał Nowicki, Robert Drabczyk
Additional Information

Definition, Etiology, PathogenesisTop

Simple renal cysts are found in >10% of adults aged >50 years, more commonly in men, with increasing prevalence with age. Simple renal cysts may increase in size with age and are usually asymptomatic; however, large cysts (>5 cm) may cause abdominal distention, flank or lower back pain, or nonspecific gastrointestinal symptoms. Possible complications of simple renal cysts include hematuria and infection. Polycystic kidney disease should be considered in those with renal enlargement, multiple cysts, bilateral involvement and positive family history.

Diagnosis Top

Simple renal cysts are often incidental findings on imaging. On ultrasonography, a simple cyst must have smooth round walls, no solid component or internal vascularity, and clearly defined back wall. Cysts with these characteristics or small cysts with <1 mm thin septations do not require further imaging.Evidence 1Strong recommendation (downsides clearly outweigh benefits; right action for all or almost all patients). Moderate Quality of Evidence (moderate confidence that we know true effects of intervention). Quality of Evidence lowered due to the relatively small number of observations (imprecision). Clayman RV, Surya V, Miller RP, Reinke DB, Fraley EE. Pursuit of the renal mass. Is ultrasound enough? Am J Med. 1984 Aug;77(2):218-23. PubMed PMID: 6465172. Cysts that do not meet these criteria should be investigated with computed tomography (CT) scanning and classified with the Bosniak renal cyst classification system.

Treatment Top

Patients with asymptomatic simple renal cysts require no further monitoring or imaging. Bosniak 2F cysts should be compared with previous images if available. Contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be performed in equivocal cases, and if truly 2F, the cyst should be followed with yearly ultrasonography. Changes in the cyst should be reinvestigated with CT.Evidence 2Strong recommendation (benefits clearly outweigh downsides; right action for all or almost all patients). Moderate Quality of Evidence (moderate confidence that we know true effects of intervention). Quality of Evidence lowered due to the relatively small number of cases (imprecision). Israel GM, Bosniak MA. Follow-up CT of moderately complex cystic lesions of the kidney (Bosniak category IIF). AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2003 Sep;181(3):627-33. PubMed PMID: 12933451. Bosniak 3 and 4 cysts should be referred to a urologist, who may elect to biopsy a category 3 cyst or follow it closely. In rare cases where large simple cysts are symptomatic, treatment with cyst drainage and foam sclerotherapy or surgical resection of the cyst are possible.

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