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Medullary Sponge Kidney

What is Medullary Sponge Kidney?

The medullary sponge kidney is also known as the Cacchi Ricci disease or simply the sponge kidney. This is considered as a rare condition that involves cystic malformations in the urinary system, specifically in the collecting ducts of our kidneys. There is a possibility that both of the kidneys are affected. The term sponge should not be taken literally, as this has been found misleading in the medical sense. This does not conclude that the kidneys have developed into a sponge-like form. It has been used but shouldn’t be considered as such.

The prevalence rate of medullary sponge disorder in the United States of America is noted to be 1:5000 people. Women are more affected than men. Basically, the condition is caused by formation of calcium stones that about fifteen percent of medullary sponge kidney cases are caused by such. The condition is said to be affecting those in their thirties.

Medullary Sponge Kidney Symptoms

The manifestations of medullary sponge kidney are sometimes masked or seemingly become asymptomatic to others. Usually, the condition is noted to start from a urinary tract infection or from a kidney stone. Because of that, the affected are suffering from these symptoms:

  1. Burning sensation during urination. This is usually accompanied by difficulty in urination.
  2. Pain in the flank area or the lower abdomen
  3. Urine discoloration is noted. It may become dark, cloudy and tinges of blood may also be observed.
  4. Changes of the urine smell are sense.
  5. The patient shall suffer from fever and chills


Medullary sponge kidney is basically from an unknown cause. There are some known factors being related to the disease condition and it involves genetics.

There are also cases where the condition is believed to be a complication or a worsened state of a urinary tract infection or any form of stone formation in the urinary system.

There are no cases where it has been found linked to any environmental factor or some sort of drug intake/abuse.


It is essential that for the diagnosis of this condition, collecting pertinent data regarding the person’s complaints should be done. The present medical history is essential in order to point out the root of the disease process. Urograhy is ordered, which is usually a confirmatory examination for medullary sponge kidney. This shall reveal abnormalities in the kidney.

Radiology is suggested mostly for this condition. This can help in viewing the kidneys and find the distinct changes – such as grapelike calcifications development. The CT scan is very much essential for it can be specific and can provide concrete visual pictures of the affected organ.

An Ultrasound is also used as a tool for the diagnosis of medullay sponge kidney. This indeed can help in viewing presence of calcifications of the kidney which is highly suggestive of medullary sponge kidney.

Medullary Sponge Kidney Treatment

The direct treatment for medullary sponge kidney is yet not identified. The treatment provided for patient with such condition is only aimed in managing the presenting symptoms and relieving the discomfort of the affected client. The following are done in managing medullary sponge kidney:

  1. Infection is treated with antibiotics. This can relieve the presenting symptoms such as pain, urinary difficulties and the like. As this can also be recurrent, the longer the drugs are provided but are prescribed with low dosages.
  2. As kidney stones are identified, it is highly suggested that they are to be removed. A procedure is done which can break down the stones easily with the use of sound waves, known as lithotripsy. As the stones are already broken down, they can be readily removed from our system through urination.
  3. Clients are provided with diuretics so to decrease hypercalciuria – that causes stone formations. Urine alkalinizing agents are also provided to reduce stone formations.


There are indeed diet changes when one is suffering from medullary sponge kidney. A cleansing diet is much recommended as this can reduce the presenting symptoms and shall help restore the normal functioning of the urinary system. As recommended, the client should reduce intake of high sodium foods. Increasing once intake of potassium shall improve excretion of excess calcium salts. It is also advised that the patient shall increase his or her water intake as to assist in the proper excretion of wastes from the body.


The condition is said not to be fatal in terms of its effects. There are no reported cases of mortality among the affected. The condition only poses a hard time onto the affected as it takes great effect on the renal system. It places a nonprogressive disease but should not be taken lightly. There is no significant damage rendered on the renal system but can be impaling as it also places worsening of the condition.

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