Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Several diagnostic methods are available to detect the size and number of kidney cysts as well as to evaluate the amount of healthy kidney tissue.

  • Ultrasound examination. In this common diagnostic method, a wand-like device called a transducer is placed on your body. It emits inaudible sound waves that are reflected back to the transducer — like sonar. A computer translates the reflected sound waves into images of your kidneys.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan. As you lie on a movable table, you're guided into a big doughnut-shaped device that projects very thin X-ray beams through your body. Your doctor is able to see cross-sectional images of your kidneys.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. As you lie inside a large cylinder, magnetic fields and radio waves generate cross-sectional views of your kidneys.
Nov. 18, 2011