What is Evaluation of Kidney Mass: Overview, Benefits, and Expected Results

Definition and Overview

The kidneys are some of the most important internal organs in the human body as their main task involves removing waste products of metabolic processes. They are also responsible for regulating the urinary system, maintaining the electrolyte levels in the body, filtering the blood and diverting water-soluble wastes from the bloodstream into the bladder for disposal. The overall importance of the kidney to the functions of the body makes the presence of masses or cysts originating or surrounding this organ extremely alarming. Renal masses can be the first sign of kidney cancer, which is one of the most common cancers in the world.

Research shows that 50per cent of individuals around the world who are over the age of fifty will have a renal mass or fluid-filled sacs known as cysts. It is important for the renal specialist, with the help of a qualified radiologist, to immediately evaluate these masses to determine if they have the potential to cause further health problems for the patient.

The evaluation of kidney mass involves a range of diagnostic and imaging procedures designed to determine if they are benign or malignant. Following the evaluation is the formulation of a treatment plan that can restore the functions or structures of the kidney.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

In most cases, renal masses are discovered when the patient undergoes evaluation for other conditions or symptoms. Many patients find out that they have a mass originating or surrounding their kidneys from their primary care physician, who orders a computerized tomography (CT) or ultrasound scan when they complain about abdominal pain.

The expected results of this procedure are the following:

  • Determining if the mass is benign or malignant, and how it will affect the patient’s kidney functions and overall health
  • Determining the best course of action to treat the renal mass

How is the Procedure Performed?

The procedure is typically performed when the patient’s primary care physician detected renal masses following an imaging procedure such as CT or ultrasound scan. The patient will then be referred to a renal specialist, who can then order additional procedures, such as a biopsy, to determine if the mass is benign or malignant or a symptom of a more serious medical condition, such as cancer.

Cysts are common in patients over fifty years old, and most of them are easily identified by the radiologist performing the imaging procedures. Simple cysts do not require medical intervention, and in most cases, the renal specialist will not require the patient to undergo further follow-up consultations or observations. Complex cysts, on the other hand, might require periodic imaging (such as CT, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging) to monitor any changes in size or characteristics.

Cysts are categorised based on the Bosniak Classification System:

  • Category I cysts are simple and benign with a thin wall. They do not have calcifications, solid components, or a septum. Density is also low. In most cases, these cysts have a water-like density.

  • Category II cysts are also benign, but they may have one or more septa and mild calcifications.

  • Category IIF cysts appear like Category II cysts, but around 5per cent of them are malignant. They require follow-up imaging before the patient is given a clean bill of health.

  • Category III cysts are those with thick, irregular stems. Roughly 50per cent of these cysts are malignant.

  • Category IV cysts are 100per cent malignant, requiring follow-up imaging procedures and careful monitoring before the renal specialist and the patient decide on the best course of medical or surgical intervention.

Solid masses are easily distinguishable from cysts, and the radiologist can immediately inform the renal specialist and the patient whether the mass discovered is solid or not. Solid masses are cancerous around 80per cent of the time and typically require a biopsy for further evaluation.

Renal biopsy is often guided by imaging equipment such as CT or ultrasound and is an important factor that is highly considered in designing further treatment or therapy for the patient. In some cases, the biopsy must be repeated several times to arrive at a definite diagnosis. If, on the other hand, the solid mass proves to be cancerous or suggests the presence of cancer, the renal specialist can immediately recommend surgery or ablation of the mass without performing a biopsy.

Possible Risks and Complications

The evaluation process itself is generally safe when performed by a qualified and experienced team of radiologists and renal specialists. However, if the patient is not satisfied with the evaluation process, he or she can go to another specialist for a second opinion.


  • Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis: “Kidney (Renal) Mass”
  • American Urological Association


**What is Evaluation of Kidney Mass: Overview, Benefits, and Expected⁤ Results**

**Question: What is an evaluation of ​kidney mass?**

**Answer:** An evaluation of kidney mass typically involves a series of medical tests and procedures to assess the characteristics, location, and potential malignancy of a mass or‍ growth in the kidney. This process often includes imaging techniques, such as ⁢ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance ⁤imaging (MRI), as well as urine and blood tests to rule out underlying medical conditions like infections or metabolic disorders.

**Question: Why ⁣is evaluating a kidney‍ mass important?**

**Answer:** Evaluating a kidney⁤ mass is crucial for several reasons:

* **Early Detection:** ​Identifying and ⁤evaluating a‌ kidney mass ‌can help ⁣detect and diagnose any underlying malignancy at its earliest ​stages, increasing the chances of successful treatment.

* **Determination of Severity:** Mass evaluation can determine the stage​ and severity of a kidney mass, aiding in selecting the most appropriate treatment plan.

* **Guiding Treatment:** The results of the evaluation‌ provide valuable information for ⁣urologists and oncologists‍ to​ determine the best course ⁣of treatment, whether it involves surgical resection, targeted therapies, or surveillance monitoring.

**Question: What‍ are the common imaging techniques used in kidney mass evaluation?**

**Answer:** The most commonly used imaging techniques for evaluating kidney masses include:

* **Ultrasound:** Non-invasive and readily available, ultrasound‌ provides real-time images of ​the mass and surrounding structures.

* **Computed Tomography​ (CT):** Produces detailed cross-sectional images of the kidney, revealing the mass size, shape, and ⁤relationship to adjacent organs.

* **Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI):** Provides clear multiplanar images, particularly useful for differentiating between benign and malignant masses.

**Question: What are the expected results of a kidney mass evaluation?**

**Answer:** The expected results of ⁣a kidney mass evaluation may vary depending on the individual patient’s situation, but generally include:

* **Identification of ⁣the Mass:** The mass is located and its size, shape, and boundaries are‍ determined.

* **Determination of Nature:** The evaluation⁢ helps distinguish between benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) masses.

* **Staging and Grading:** If a mass is malignant, further evaluation may involve ⁤staging and grading to assess its aggressiveness and potential spread.

* **Recommendations for Treatment:** Based on the evaluation findings, the healthcare ⁢team will provide ⁢recommendations for ​appropriate treatment options and further ⁢follow-up care.

**Question: What are the potential ⁣benefits of evaluating a kidney mass?**

**Answer:** The‍ potential benefits of evaluating a kidney mass include:

* **Early Detection:** Timely diagnosis ‌of kidney​ cancer can lead to⁤ early intervention and improved treatment outcomes.

* **Appropriate Treatment:** Accurate evaluation guides the most effective ⁢treatment plan, maximizing⁣ chances of successful outcomes.

* **Peace of Mind:** Having a⁢ thorough evaluation can provide peace⁣ of mind for the patient and their family by clarifying if the ⁤mass ‍is benign or requires further attention.


Evaluating a kidney mass is⁣ a critical​ step ​in managing potential kidney malignancies. By utilizing state-of-the-art imaging techniques and medical expertise, healthcare providers can accurately assess the characteristics of the mass, determine its potential severity, and guide appropriate treatment. Early detection and proper evaluation can ‍significantly improve patient outcomes, emphasizing the importance of seeking medical attention if ​a kidney mass ⁤is​ suspected.

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