Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) causes cysts (fluid-filled growths) to develop in the kidneys. PKD is a genetic disorder, meaning you have to have a mutated (changed) gene to get the disorder.

Causes of Polycystic Kidney Disease

  • Genetic mutations cause polycystic kidney disease. In most cases, parents pass the disorder to their children.

  • So, you inherit PKD. But sometimes genes mutate or change at random. People of all ages, races and ethnicities can have PKD.

  • It occurs equally in women and men.

Symptoms of Polycystic Kidney Disease

  • Headaches.

  • Hematuria (blood in the urine).

  • High blood pressure.

  • Pain in your back or sides.

Signs of Polycystic Kidney Disease

  • Enlarged kidneys.

  • Growth failure (small size or low birthweight).

  • Low amniotic fluid level, which might mean a baby isn’t producing enough urine in the womb.

Diagnosis of Polycystic Kidney Disease

A nephrologist (healthcare provider specializing in kidney disorders) diagnoses PKD. They may order the following imaging exams to check your kidneys:

  • Kidney ultrasound or prenatal ultrasound.

  • CT scan.

  • MRI.

Complications of Polycystic Kidney Disease

  • Brain aneurysms.

  • Colon problems.

  • Heart valve problems.

  • High blood pressure.

  • Kidney failure.

  • Kidney stones.

  • Liver cysts and pancreatic cysts.

  • Preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy).

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Treatment of Polycystic Kidney Disease

Blood pressure management

Your provider helps you control your blood pressure with medicine, diet and exercise. Keeping your blood pressure within a safe range reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Breathing support

Infants with underdeveloped lungs and breathing problems may need mechanical ventilation.


If you have kidney failure, you may need dialysis (a procedure to clean the blood). Hemodialysis uses a machine to filter blood outside the body. Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your belly and a special fluid to filter blood.

Growth therapy

Underweight or underdeveloped infants may need help growing. A healthcare provider may recommend nutritional therapy or human growth hormone.

Kidney transplant

You may need a kidney transplant if ADPKD progresses to end-stage renal failure. A transplant is surgery to replace a failing kidney with a donor kidney.

Pain management

Medicine can control pain caused by infections, kidney stones or burst cysts. Your healthcare provider should approve any pain medicines you take. Some medicines can make kidney damage worse.

diseases treatments health polycystic-kidney-disease disorders prevention excretory-system

Subscribe For More Content