Renal cyst

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Left and right kidneys froma 1-year-old female dog with multicystic dysplastic kidneys[1]

Renal cysts (multicystic dysplastic kidney disease) are a rare benign form of renal neoplasia characterized by intramedullary or intracortical cyst-like lesions.

Renal cysts are thought to arise as a result of underlying infections (e.g. microabscesses) from ascending infections (e.g. cystitis), or from congenital diseases such as renal dysplasia.

Affected dogs often present with a protracted history of hematuria. Depending on the cyst size, a palpable mass may be evident in the dorsal abdomen, sometimes with concurrent pain and tenderness in the loin region.

Ultrasonic imaging usually reveals small kidneys with a loss of normal architecture and poor corticomedullary distinction. The cyst often appear as anechoic spaces with sharply demarcated, thin-walled, round structures containing anechoic fluid.

Blood tests may reveal leukopenia and non-regenerative anemia. Chronic renal disease may be concurrently observed in severe cases with hyperkalemia and azotemia.

Diagnosis can be made presumptively on ultrasonographic findings of renal contour distortion and presence of hyperechogenic fluid-filled cysts, which may be present unilaterally or bilaterally[2].

A differential diagnosis would include polycystic kidney disease, renal carcinoma, nephroblastoma and Echinococcus spp infections.


  1. Kim J et al (2011) Multicystic dysplastic kidney disease in a dog. Can Vet J 52(6):645-649
  2. Kitshoff AM et al (2011) Bilateral multiple cystic kidney disease and renal cortical abscess in a Boerboel. J S Afr Vet Assoc 82(2):120-124