FAQ- Medullary Sponge Kidney (MSK)

What causes medullary sponge kidney?

MSK is a congenital disorder, which means it is present from birth. It occurs when small sacs form in the kidney’s collecting ducts, also known as tubules. These sacs can reduce the outward flow of urine from the kidneys. One or both kidneys can be affected. 70% of MSK cases are bilateral (in both kidneys) MSK is considered a rare disorder. There is conflicting evidence as to whether it is a genetic disorder or not.

What are the symptoms of MSK?

Symptoms of MSK typically do not present until adolescence or adulthood.

Commonly reported symptoms are:

Recurrent Kidney stones

Renal colic

Flank pain


Frequent urinary tract infections

Kidney failure occurs in about 10% of people with MSK.

How do you diagnose medullary sponge kidney?

It is typically diagnosed with a test called an IVP (intravenous pyelogram) This procedure uses a dye contrast to allow the testing to better visualize the kidneys and expose issues such as renal duct plugging, calculi and/or cysts in the kidneys or blockages in the urinary tract. Other imaging tests can be used to evaluate diagnosed MSK for treatment protocols such as a renal ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scan.

How do you treat MSK?

There is no cure for MSK. Treatment protocols involve managing symptoms and consistently evaluating kidney function. Frequent urinalysis testing is recommended for patients with a history of recurrent UTI’s. Renal ultrasounds are also used to evaluate the presence of issues such as hydronephrosis and renal calculi. Dietary interventions such as a low oxalate eating protocols or avoiding dietary triggering substances such as citric acid or aspartame has also been used to manage MSK symptoms. Increased hydration and water consumption is also recommended.

24 hour urine panel testing is also used to evaluate the composition of kidney stones and can be used to help MSK patients manage their care.

In the event hydronephrosis or renal obstruction occurs, surgical interventions may be necessary. Ureteral stent placement is a common procedure for MSK patients. The procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia. Stents are surgically placed to allow the kidneys to drain and can also be used to help stones pass. Stents are commonly placed after surgery to remove kidney stones and to help the healing process so that swelling does not block the drainage of urine, which can lead to infection.

Medications such as Utira-C , Mybetriq, Levsin , Flomax, Elmiron are commonly prescribed to mange urinary symptoms associated with MSK.

Natural remedies such as IP6, Oregano Oil, Dmannose are also recommended to manage MSK symptoms.

*DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical care or advice. Do not start or stop any medication, diet or alternative therapy without first checking with your physician*

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