Kidney cysts, also called renal cysts, form when fluid collects on or near the kidneys. These round pouches of fluid are usually not harmful and do not lead to other complications. Simple kidney cysts are non-cancerous, though the growths can cause some serious health disorders that weaken kidney function. These cysts differ from the cysts that form with polycystic kidney disease, an inherited disorder that enlarges the kidneys and damages them over time.
Doctors are not sure how or why simple kidney cysts occur. Researchers theorize the cysts develop when the surface layer of the kidney weakens and forms a pouch, called a diverticulum. The pouch fills with fluid, which later detaches and forms a cyst. Usually, there are no signs or symptoms; rather, simple kidney cysts often show up on imaging tests performed for other reasons.
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