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HealthInfo Canterbury

Polycystic kidney disease

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is where fluid-filled cysts form on your kidneys causing them to slowly enlarge. PKD can very slowly cause your kidneys to stop working properly.

Cysts can also grow in other parts of your body, such as your liver, brain and heart.

PKD is an inherited disease that's passed down from one or both of your parents. It's an autosomal dominant disease, which means that the children of an affected parent have a 50% chance of developing the condition. It's the most common form of inherited kidney disease.

About half of people with PKD will develop a mild form of chronic kidney disease (CKD) that doesn't develop further or only does so in old age. But the other half will develop severe CKD that needs treating.

Symptoms of PKD

PCKDIt's common not to have any symptoms with PKD. But symptoms you might notice include:

Diagnosing PKD

Your doctor might order the following tests:

Treating PKD

It's important to make sure you keep your blood pressure under control. You should also make healthy lifestyle choices to help keep your kidneys healthy.

While there's no cure for PKD, a drug called tolvaptan slows down the growth of cysts, which means it can delay the development of chronic kidney disease.

If you have PKD, your doctor might talk to you about screening your children to find out if any of them have inherited the gene that causes PKD.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2021.

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Page reference: 203481

Review key: HIKID-202879