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Polycystic Kidney Disease May Warrant a Kidney Transplant

Man in hospital bed talks to nurse

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited disorder that can affect not only the kidneys but the liver, cardiovascular system, intestines, and surrounding anatomy as well. The most common type of this condition is known as autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADKPD), which causes small cysts to form in the kidneys over time, gradually impeding their ability to filter waste products from the body’s blood supply. Another, much rarer form of this condition known as autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD) can be life-threatening to infants, and nearly one-third of all surviving newborns will require dialysis or a transplant by their 10th birthday. ADKPD, on the other hand, can go entirely undetected for years, and in most cases the early stages of the disorder are entirely asymptomatic or cause relatively benign symptoms, like high blood pressure and back pain.

As a person ages, ADKPD can cause significant pain and swelling in the abdomen, make an individual more susceptible to aneurysms and other cardiovascular complications, and often lead to liver cyst formation. Effective management of polycystic kidney disease is often possible, helping diagnosed individuals maintain a high quality of life, although if kidney function deteriorates then dialysis and/or a transplant may be warranted. Some examples of initial treatments for patients diagnosed with ADKPD include:

  • Medications to address common symptoms, such as high blood pressure and urinary tract infections
  • Surgeries to remove painful kidney stones
  • Lifestyle changes, like losing weight and following a low-salt diet to improve kidney health

The overall prognosis for patients diagnosed with ADKPD varies from patient to patient. Some individuals are diagnosed with the condition and live an otherwise full, healthy life with minimal intervening treatment. Others eventually experience renal failure and require immediate treatment.

U.S. News & World Report has ranked Tampa General Hospital as one of America's Best Hospitals for Nephrology, and we are considered one of the leading kidney transplant centers in the country. Our team has extensive experience providing kidney transplants to adult and pediatric patients with polycystic kidney disease and other kidney transplant conditions, and we are equipped to treat patients who require multi-organ transplants. The median time to transplant for patients on our kidney transplant waiting list is among the shortest in the nation, and our one-year and three-year patient survival rates after transplant are typically higher than the national averages, according to Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients’ (SRTR) data.

For more information about the transplant selection criteria for patients with polycystic kidney disease (PKD), also known as polycystic kidney syndrome, or Tampa General Hospital’s Kidney Transplant Program, please call 1-800-505-7769 (press 5 for the kidney transplant program and ask for the referral coordinator), or call the coordinator directly at (813) 844-8686.