Acquired cystic disease subtype renal cell carcinoma (ACD-RCC): prevalence and imaging features at a single institution

Molly B. Carnahan, Jacqueline Kunzelman, Akira Kawashima, Bhavik N. Patel, Christine O. Menias, Ghaneh Fananapazir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Acquired cystic kidney disease (ACKD) is commonly seen in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), and patients with ACKD have an increased risk of renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Acquired cystic disease-associated RCC (ACD-RCC) was incorporated into the 2016 World Health Organization Classification. This study aims to describe the imaging features of ACD-RCC, which are not well reported previously. Methods: Retrospective review of patients with ACKD who underwent total nephrectomy for concern of a renal mass between 2016 and 2021 yielded 122 nephrectomies in 107 patients. Pathology reports were searched for type and subtype of mass. In ACD-RCC subtypes, imaging studies were evaluated for modality and contrast enhancement (CE). Imaging findings assessed included cystic/solid nature, unenhanced CT (NECT) attenuation, enhancement characteristics [non-enhancing (< 10 HU difference), equivocal (10–20 HU), enhancing (> 20 HU)], subjective MRI enhancement, T1 and T2 signal intensity, restricted diffusion, ultrasound (US) echogenicity, and subjective CEUS enhancement. Results: 148 masses were identified, 122 (82%) of which were malignant and 26 (18%) benign. The three most common tumors were clear cell RCC (n = 47), papillary RCC (n = 35), and ACD-RCC (n = 21). Of the 21 cases of ACD-RCC, 16 had preoperative imaging: CT (15: 6 NECT only, 2 CECT only, 7 combined NECT and CECT), MRI (4), CEUS (5). Ten of these tumors were solid/mostly solid and 6 mixed cystic/solid. On NECT, the average attenuation was 35 HU (range 13–52). Of those with multiphasic CTs, 1 was non-enhancing, 3 were equivocal, and 3 enhanced. All 3 masses imaged with CE-MRI showed enhancement. All 4 tumors evaluated by MRI demonstrated T2 hypointensity and restricted diffusion. All five masses enhanced on CEUS. Conclusion: ACD-RCC subtype was the third most common renal neoplasm in ACKD patients. Our findings found that no single imaging feature is pathognomonic for ACD-RCC. However, ACD-RCCs are typically solid masses with most demonstrating equivocal or mild enhancement on CT. T2 hypointensity and restricted diffusion were the most common MRI features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2858-2866
Number of pages9
JournalAbdominal Radiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Acquire cystic kidney disease
  • Acquired cystic disease-associated renal cell carcinoma
  • Renal cell carcinoma End-stage renal disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Gastroenterology
  • Urology


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