Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic kidney disease, also known as PKD, is a genetic disorder that leads to the development of cysts within the kidneys. A cyst is a non cancerous, fluid-filled sac that can vary in size and sometimes grow extremely large. When these cysts form, the kidneys may become enlarged and suffer from reduced function. In severe cases, the kidneys may fail completely.  The most common form of PKD, known as autosomal dominant PKD, typically does not become symptomatic until patients reach adulthood.

Symptoms of Polycystic Kidney Disease

Patients with PKD may not experience any symptoms at all in the early stages. As the disease progresses, patients may experience the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • Back pain or abdominal bloating
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Headache
  • Blood in the urine


Diagnosis of Polycystic Kidney Disease

The diagnosis of PKD typically includes a detailed family history, review of systems, and physical exam.  Additional testing may include:
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI
  • CT scan
  • Genetic testing

Treatment of Polycystic Kidney Disease

PKD is not curable, but treatments are available to slow the growth of cysts and preserve kidney function.  Treatments may include:
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Medications to slow the growth of cysts
  • Pain medication and antibiotics as needed

Additional Resources