Definition

What is medullary sponge kidney?

Medullary Sponge Kidney (MSK), also known as Cacchi–Ricci disease, is a congenital disorder of the kidneys. This condition is characterized by cystic dilatation of the collecting tubules in one or both kidneys. Individuals with medullary sponge kidney are at increased risk for kidney stones and urinary tract infection (UTI). Patients with MSK typically pass twice as many stones per year as do other stone formers without MSK. While this condition is described as a “benign” disorder with a low morbidity rate, as many as 10% of patients with MSK have an increased risk of morbidity associated with frequent stones and UTIs.

How common is medullary sponge kidney?

Medullary sponge kidney affects about one person per 5,000 people. Researchers have reported that 12 to 20 percent of people who develop calcium-based kidney stones have medullary sponge kidney.

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of medullary sponge kidney?

At the beginning of medullary sponge kidney, many patients have no symptoms. The first sign that a person experiences medullary sponge kidney is commonly a UTI or a kidney stone. However, UTIs and kidney stones share many of the same signs and symptoms, such as:

  • Burning or painful urination
  • Pain in the back, lower abdomen, or groin
  • Cloudy, dark, or bloody urine
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Fever and chills
  • Vomiting

Patients who experience these symptoms should see or call a health care provider as soon as possible for further information.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes medullary sponge kidney?

Actually, scientists do not fully understand what exactly cause medullary sponge kidney or why cysts form in the tubules during fetal development. Even though medullary sponge kidney is present at birth, most cases do not appear to be inherited.

It was previously believed that most cases of medullary sponge kidney were sporadic; however, recent studies show familial clustering of MSK is common and has an autosomal dominant inheritance, a reduced penetrance, and variable expressivity. Other theories suggest that dilatation of a collecting duct may occur, caused by occlusion by uric acid during fetal life or resulting from tubular obstruction due to calcium oxalate calculi secondary to infantile hypercalciuria.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for medullary sponge kidney?

There are many risk factors for medullary sponge kidney, such as:

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is medullary sponge kidney diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, a physical examination will be performed and some tests will be also recommended by your doctor. Health care providers commonly choose one or more of three imaging techniques to diagnose medullary sponge kidney:

Intravenous pyelogram

An intravenous pyelogram can show any blockage in the urinary tract, and the cysts show up as clusters of light.

Computerized tomography (CT) scan

CT scans can show expanded or stretched tubules

Ultrasound

Ultrasound can show kidney stones and calcium deposits within the kidney

How is medullary sponge kidney treated?

Scientists have not discovered a way to reverse medullary sponge kidney. Once a health care provider is sure a person has medullary sponge kidney, treatment focuses on

Curing an Existing Urinary Tract Infection

 

To treat a UTI, the health care provider may prescribe a medication called an antibiotic that kills bacteria. The choice of medication and length of treatment depend on the person’s medical history and the type of bacteria causing the infection.

Removing Kidney Stones

Treatment for kidney stones usually depends on their size and what they are made of, as well as whether they are causing pain or obstructing the urinary tract.

Small stones usually pass through the urinary tract without treatment. Still, the person may need pain medication and should drink lots of liquids to help move the stone along.

A person with a larger stone, or one that blocks urine flow and causes great pain, may need more urgent treatment, such as

Shock wave lithotripsy

A machine called a lithotripter is used to break up the kidney stone into smaller pieces to pass more easily through the urinary tract.

Ureteroscopy

A ureteroscope, a long, tubelike instrument with an eyepiece, is used to find and retrieve the stone with a small basket or to break the stone up with laser energy.

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy

In this procedure, a wire-thin viewing instrument, called a nephroscope, is used to locate and remove the stones.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage medullary sponge kidney?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with medullary sponge kidney:

  • Drinking plenty of water can decrease the risk of medullary sponge kidney.
  • Reducing sodium intake, mostly from salt, may help prevent kidney stones.
  • Foods rich in animal proteins such as meat, eggs, and fish can increase the chance of uric acid stones and calcium stones forming.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: August 23, 2017 | Last Modified: August 23, 2017

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