Site Map

Polycystic kidney disease

Cysts - kidneys; Kidney - polycystic; Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease; ADPKD

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a kidney disorder passed down through families. In this disease, many cysts form in the kidneys, causing them to become enlarged.

Images

Kidney and liver cysts - CT scan
Liver and spleen cysts - CT scan

I Would Like to Learn About:

Causes

PKD is passed down through families (inherited). The 2 inherited forms of PKD are autosomal dominant and autosomal recessive.

People with PKD have many clusters of cysts in the kidneys. What exactly triggers the cysts to form is unknown. 

PKD is associated with the following conditions:

As many as half of people with PKD have cysts in the liver.

Symptoms

Symptoms of PKD may include any of the following:

Exams and Tests

An examination may show:

Tests that may be done include:

People with a personal or family history of PKD who have headaches should be tested to determine if cerebral aneurysms are the cause.

PKD and cysts on the liver or other organs may be found using the following tests:

If several members of your family have PKD, genetic tests can be done to determine whether you carry the PKD gene.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to control symptoms and prevent complications. Treatment may include:

Any urinary tract infection should be treated quickly with antibiotics.

Cysts that are painful, infected, bleeding, or causing a blockage may need to be drained. There are usually too many cysts to make it practical to remove each cyst.

Surgery to remove 1 or both kidneys may be needed. Treatments for end-stage kidney disease may include dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Support Groups

You can often ease the stress of an illness by joining a support group where members share common experiences and problems.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The disease gets worse slowly. Eventually, it may lead to end-stage kidney failure. It is also associated with liver disease, including infection of liver cysts.

Treatment may relieve symptoms for many years.

People with PKD who don't have other diseases may be good candidates for a kidney transplant.

Possible Complications

Health problems that may result from PKD include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

Prevention

Currently, no treatment can prevent the cysts from forming or enlarging.

Related Information

Cyst
Aneurysm
Diverticulitis
Testes
Erythropoietin test
Flank pain
Kidney stones
High blood pressure - adults
Acute kidney failure
Liver disease
Anemia
Urinary tract infection - adults
End-stage kidney disease

References

Arnaout MA. Cystic kidney diseases. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 127.

Torres VE, Harris PC. Cystic diseases of the kidney. In: Skorecki K, Chertow GM, Marsden PA, Taal MW, Yu ASL, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 46.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 8/1/2017  

Reviewed By: Walead Latif, MD, nephrologist and Clinical Associate Professor, Rutgers Medical School, Newark, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2019 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.