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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Repeat Topic
January 2002

Q. I would like to know if there has been any recent research done on Medullary Sponge Kidney (MSK) as it relates to pain. Many sufferers of MSK are told by their medical professional that NO pain exists with MSK, yet, we as MSK patients, know that pain does exist and at times can be incapacitating. Since the MSK kidney is a defect within the kidney, has any study been done to determine why MSK patients feel so much pain when supposedly the Medullary portion of the kidney does not contain nerves? (Or does the MSK kidney, having a defect, actually have nerve endings?)

A. Medullary sponge kidney is an uncommon disorder in which numerous small pouches (cysts) form in the collecting area of the kidney. These pouches will show up on an x-ray image as little shadows, giving the kidney a sponge-like appearance. The cause is unknown. About 90% of cases never have symptoms and are discovered by accident when imaging studies are done for other reasons. Complications can occur, most commonly kidney infection and kidney stones, both of which can be quite painful. The cause of pain in other cases is not understood. The following references include more information on the condition and a support group available on the internet.




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