CT Scans Spot Many Kidney Abnormalities

THURSDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- About 25 percent of healthy people have abnormalities in the kidneys and their blood vessels, but most of these abnormalities aren't serious enough to prevent a person from donating a kidney, a new study shows.

More research is needed to determine how these abnormalities affect long-term health, the study authors noted.

In the study, researchers conducted CT scans of the kidneys and renal arteries of nearly 2,000 adults at the Mayo Clinic who volunteered to donate a kidney to a patient with kidney failure. The results showed that at least one-quarter of the potential donors had abnormalities. The most common problem was kidney stones, which were present in about 10 percent of the participants.

Certain kinds of abnormalities -- including narrowing of the renal arteries, scars in the kidneys, and masses in the kidney (several of which were early cancers) -- were more common in those older than 50. Other types of abnormalities were more common in women than men, according to the report.

In most cases, the abnormalities didn't cause any discomfort, and more than 73 percent of the abnormalities weren't serious enough to prevent kidney donation.

"These findings highlight an interesting challenge implicit with improvements in imaging technology: Physicians are now finding more subtle abnormalities in the kidneys and renal arteries, but lack clear evidence as to whether these findings are benign or harmful to the long-term health of patients," Dr. Elizabeth Lorenz said in a news release from the American Society of Nephrology.

The study was published online Jan. 14 in advance of print publication in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: American Society of Nephrology, news release, Jan. 14, 2010