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Kidney Diseases

Cortical Cysts



I have pain in my lower back under my ribs on the left. I had a urinay tract ultrasound which found that both kidneys have a bipolar diameter of approx. 12cm. They appear normal apart from a 1cm diameter cortical cyst on the left. My mother died from complications due to renal failure. She was on dialysis for a couple of years. Should I investigate the cortical cyst found in my ultrasound?


One cyst will not cause renal failure. One cyst may be associated with back pain but this would be atypical as there are usually musculoskeletal reasons for back pain. I cannot answer your question about investigating the cyst because you did not provide enough anatomic information. Simple cysts are considered benign and usually left alone. Complex cysts may undergo malignant transformation and may need to be reimaged in 6 months. Sometimes they are biopsied and/or removed. Please review the findings with your doctor.

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Response by:

Thomas   Zipp, MD Thomas Zipp, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University