Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

There are two main types of polycystic kidney disease. The most common is autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADKPD), which is also known as adult PKD because it often goes undetected until its symptoms appear during adulthood. PKD causes clusters of fluid-filled sacs (cysts) to form in the kidneys. The cysts can grow very large and thousands may be present at once, causing the kidneys to become enlarged and interfering with their blood-filtering function.

Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD) is a relatively rare condition that causes cysts to grow in both the kidneys and the liver. Often referred to as childhood PKD, ARPKD may be detected during the first few months of life, or even before a baby is born.

Both types of PKD can lead to renal insufficiency or end-stage renal failure.

Causes of Polycystic Kidney Disease

PKD is caused by a genetic mutation, which sometimes occurs spontaneously. In almost all cases, however, the mutated gene is inherited from one or both parents. Although the condition cannot be prevented, the risk of complications may be managed with lifestyle changes and medications.

Symptoms of Polycystic Kidney Disease

PKD is often silent; in fact, some people have ADKPD for years without knowing it. When symptoms occur, they may include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Blood in the urine
  • Swelling or fullness in the abdomen
  • Back or flank pain
  • Kidney stones
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Diagnosis of Polycystic Kidney Disease

If PKD is suspected, a physician will typically order one or more imaging tests to determine the size and number of kidney cysts present and evaluate the healthy kidney tissue, such as:

  • Ultrasound
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

Treatments for Polycystic Kidney Disease

PKD treatment can vary based on the severity of the condition and the resulting symptoms. Possible options include:

  • Healthy lifestyle practices, such as consuming a low-salt diet, exercising regularly, losing excess body weight and maintaining proper hydration levels to improve kidney health
  • Medication to control high blood pressure
  • Antibiotics to resolve urinary tract infections
  • Surgery to remove painful kidney stones

Tampa General Hospital is proud to offer the latest diagnostic and treatment options for all types of kidney disease, including PKD, and we are widely considered to be one of the leading kidney transplant centers in the nation.