Polycystic Kidney Disease

Posted Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Did You Know? 600,000 Americans currently have PKD

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is the Most Common Inherited Kidney Disorder  

PKD Accounts for 2.2% of New Cases of Kidney Disease in the U.S.

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic disorder that causes numerous cysts to grow in the kidneys. PKD cysts can greatly enlarge the kidneys while replacing much of their normal structure, resulting in chronic kidney disease (CKD), which causes reduced kidney function over time. 

This resource is intended to help you better understand what causes PKD, signs and symptoms and possible disease complications.   

What Causes PKD?

PKD is caused by a gene mutation or defect. Genes provide instructions for making proteins in the body. A gene mutation is a permanent change in the sequence that makes up a gene. In most cases of PKD, a person inherits the gene mutation, meaning a parent passes it on in his or her genes. In the remaining cases, the gene mutation develops spontaneously. In spontaneous cases, neither parent carries a copy of the mutated gene. 

Signs & Symptoms

In many cases, PKD does not cause signs or symptoms until cysts are half an inch or larger. When present, the most common symptoms include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Back or side pain
  • Headache
  • Increase abdomen size 
  • Blood in urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney failure
  • Urinary tract or kidney infections


If left untreated PKD can lead to coma or death, more than half of those with PDK progress to kidney failure by age 70.  Complications associated with polycystic kidney disease include:

  • Pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of kidney function
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Growth of cysts in the liver
  • Brain aneurysm
  • UTIs
  • Kidney stones
  • Liver cysts
  • Pancreatic cysts
  • Abnormal heart valves
  • Diverticula

There are many treatment options for PKD, speak with your medical provider to establish a roadmap for care.  For additional PKD resources visit: http://www.mayoclinic.org 

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