Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
What is polycystic
Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited
disease that affects the kidneys. Sacs of fluid (called cysts) grow in the
kidneys. If too many cysts grow or if they get too big, the kidneys become
damaged. The cysts may also cause pain or may get infected.
PKD is the most common inherited disease in the
United States. Children of parents with PKD have a 50% chance of getting the
How will PKD
Most people with PKD can lead a normal life. In
many people, the disease is mild and causes only minor problems. PKD is more
severe in some patients and can cause kidney failure. About 60% of patients
develop high blood pressure, which can be treated with blood pressure medicine.
About 50% of patients with PKD have kidney failure by age 60. Dialysis (blood
filtering) and kidney transplants are both effective treatments for kidney
failure. PKD is generally worse in men, blacks and patients with sickle cell
disease. There is also a childhood form of PKD which is usually more severe than
the type that occurs in adults.
What other organs
can be hurt by PKD?
People with PKD may also have cysts in the
liver, but these cysts seldom cause problems. Heart valve problems sometimes
occur. Other organs that may be affected include the brain, intestines,
pancreas, ovaries and spleen. If PKD affects the brain, it can cause an aneurysm
(a bulging blood vessel that can rupture).
What are the
symptoms of PKD?
The most common symptom of PKD is high blood
pressure. Other symptoms are:
- Pain in the back and side
- Blood in the urine
- Frequent kidney infections
Not all patients will have all
of these symptoms.
How is PKD
PKD is often diagnosed when a person begins to
have symptoms. Symptoms most often occur in middle age.
If you have symptoms of PKD or if you are at
risk of the disease, your doctor may want you to have an ultrasound exam to look
at your kidneys. An ultrasound exam provides a picture of your organs by passing
sound waves through your body. An ultrasound exam can detect cysts in your
kidneys. Your doctor may order an x-ray exam called CT (computerized tomography)
to look for cysts in the kidney.
Who should be
checked for PKD?
If one of your parents has PKD, you should
consider having an ultrasound exam of your kidneys. If you have PKD and you also
have a relative who has had a brain aneurysm, your doctor may suggest that you
have a CT or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of your brain to check for an
aneurysm. (MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce a picture of
your brain.) If you are at high risk of an aneurysm, your doctor may suggest
that you have CT or MRI of the brain every 5 years to detect an aneurysm before
it causes problems.
treatment for PKD?
No treatment is available for the cysts that
occur due to PKD. If the cysts are causing symptoms, these symptoms can be
treated so you will be more comfortable.
Can PKD be
diagnosed in unborn babies?
Yes. PKD can be diagnosed in unborn babies using
a test called amniocentesis (analysis of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the
baby) or a test called chorionic villus sampling (examination of a small piece
of the placenta). If you have PKD and you're pregnant, talk with your doctor
about these procedures.