Abdominal Radiology

, Volume 43, Issue 11, pp 3068–3074 | Cite as

Prevalence of renal cysts and association with risk factors in a general population: an MRI-based study

  • Birger MenselEmail author
  • Jens-Peter Kühn
  • Felix Kracht
  • Henry Völzke
  • Wolfgang Lieb
  • Thomas Dabers
  • Roberto Lorbeer



To assess the prevalence and size of renal cysts and to analyze associated risk factors in a general population using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


Data of 2063 participants (1052 women) of the Study of Health in Pomerania who underwent whole-body MRI were included. Renal cyst prevalence was calculated separately for men and women and for 10-year age groups. The association between risk factors and occurrence of renal cysts was estimated.


The prevalence of renal cysts was 27% and higher in men (34%) than in women (21%; p < 0.001). Renal cyst prevalence increased from 14% in the youngest age group (20–29 years) to 55% in the oldest age group (≥ 70 years) for men and from 7% to 43% for women (both p < 0.001). In the subset of participants with renal cysts, the total mean number was higher in men (1.9) compared to women (1.6, p = 0.012) and was significantly associated with age. Mean renal cyst size was higher in men (1.50 cm) compared to women (1.18 cm, p < 0.001). Male sex (OR 1.83, 95% CI 1.47; 2.26), older age (OR 1.05, 95% CI 1.04; 1.06, per 1-year increment), and hypertension (OR 1.27, 95% CI 1.00; 1.61) were associated with higher renal cyst prevalence. In additional analyses, current smoking and ex-smoking showed a significantly higher risk for renal cysts (OR 1.47, 95% CI 1.05; 2.05 and OR 1.38, 95% CI 1.04; 1.82, respectively).


The prevalence, number, and mean size of renal cysts are higher in men compared to women and are associated with age. In addition, renal cyst prevalence is higher in hypertensive and smoking subjects.


Population-based study Renal cysts Risk factors Magnetic resonance imaging 



The Community Medicine Research network of the University of Greifswald, Germany, covers several research projects that share data from the population-based Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP; The contributions to data collection made by field workers, technicians, interviewers, and computer assistants are gratefully acknowledged.

Compliance with ethical standards


SHIP is part of the Community Medicine Research Net of the University of Greifswald, Germany, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (01ZZ9603, 01ZZ0103, 01ZZ0403, 01ZZ0701, 03ZIK012), the Ministry of Cultural Affairs as well as the Social Ministry of the Federal State of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. Whole-body MR imaging was supported by a joint grant from Siemens Healthcare, Erlangen, Germany, and the Federal State of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. The University of Greifswald is a member of the ‘Center of Knowledge Interchange’ program of Siemens AG. Contrast-enhanced MRI research is part of the entire whole-body MRI study and was supported by Bayer Healthcare. Furthermore, this work is part of the research project Greifswald Approach to Individualized Medicine (GANI_MED). The GANI_MED consortium is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and as well as by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of the German Federal State of Mecklenburg—West Pomerania (03IS2061A). This study was further supported by the DZHK (German Center for Cardiovascular Research).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from each participant included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Diagnostic Radiology and NeuroradiologyUniversity Medicine GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Community MedicineUniversity Medicine GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  3. 3.DZHK (German Centre for Cardiovascular Research), Partner Site GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  4. 4.DZD (German Centre for Diabetes Research)GreifswaldGermany
  5. 5.Institute of EpidemiologyChristian Albrecht UniversityKielGermany
  6. 6.Department of Internal Medicine, NephrologyUniversity Medicine GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  7. 7.Department of RadiologyUniversity Hospital, LMUMunichGermany
  8. 8.German Center for Cardiovascular Disease Research (DZHK E.V.)MunichGermany

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