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What causes a kidney cyst?

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Quick Answer

As of 2014, the causes of kidney cysts are unclear, according to WebMD. These cysts do not appear to have a genetic component. Males are more prone to kidney cysts than females, and these cysts are extremely common in people over 50.

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Full Answer

Kidney cysts are round, fluid-filled growths on the kidney, according to Mayo Clinic. Serious disorders, such as polycystic kidney disease, frequently lead to kidney cysts, but many kidney cysts arise without an apparent etiology. These are known as simple kidney cysts.

Simple kidney cysts do not impact kidney function in a major way, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Disease Information Clearinghouse, although one study suggested some decrease in kidney function among those under 60 with kidney cysts. In most cases, the cysts are asymptomatic. However, some patients experience pain or discomfort in the abdomen if the cysts press on other organs. Additionally, if the cysts become infected, the patient may experience fever, pain and tenderness.

WebMD states that most kidney cysts never require treatment. However, if a cyst grows large enough to cause pronounced pain or effect organ functions, a doctor may opt to drain the cyst. After drainage, cysts are unlikely to recur. In the rare cases where they do, doctors can burn or remove the cyst completely to prevent recurrence.

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