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Sponge Kidney
July 2002

Q. My husband has been diagnosed with sponge kidney. A friend of his told him his daughter had a sponge kidney and doctors took it out. They were told that having a sponge kidney could poison the other kidney. Is this true?

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. It is unusual for a kidney to be removed for this condition, as kidney function is rarely abnormal, so perhaps there were other considerations.



Hereditary and acquired cystic disease of the kidney. Kidney Int. 1994 Oct;46(4):951-64. (article can be ordered from a hospital or medical school library)

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