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Simple and complex renal cysts in adults

INTRODUCTION

Renal cysts result from genetic or nongenetic processes and occur in a variety of diseases in adults and children. The most common causes of radiologically evident renal cysts in adults are simple renal cysts, which will be discussed here; autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (PKD); and acquired cystic disease in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) after several years of dialysis, particularly hemodialysis. (See "Renal manifestations of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease" and "Course and treatment of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease" and "Acquired cystic disease of the kidney in adults".)

Smaller cysts, usually <1 cm in diameter, also occur in medullary sponge kidney, autosomal recessive PKD, and autosomal dominant interstitial kidney disease (previously called medullary cystic kidney disease). (See "Medullary sponge kidney" and "Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease in children" and "Autosomal dominant interstitial kidney disease (medullary cystic kidney disease)".)

Other unusual causes of renal cysts in adults are von Hippel-Lindau disease, tuberous sclerosis complex, and nephronophthisis. (See "Clinical features, diagnosis, and management of von Hippel-Lindau disease" and "Renal manifestations of tuberous sclerosis complex", section on 'Renal cysts' and "Genetics and pathogenesis of nephronophthisis", section on 'Pathogenesis'.)

An overview of the renal cyst classification system, our recommended approach to complex renal cysts in adults, and a discussion of simple renal cysts are presented in this topic review. The evaluation of a solid renal mass is discussed separately. (See "Diagnostic approach, differential diagnosis, and treatment of a small renal mass".)

CHARACTERISTICS OF SIMPLE AND COMPLEX RENAL CYSTS

Renal cysts are categorized as simple or complex. Simple renal cysts are commonly observed in normal kidneys, with an increasing incidence as individuals age [1]. They are benign, asymptomatic lesions that rarely require treatment. (See 'Simple renal cysts' below.)

                   

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Literature review current through: Oct 2014. | This topic last updated: Jan 23, 2014.
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