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Polycystic Kidney Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Cost

Last Updated: Sep 04, 2019

What is Polycystic Kidney Disease?

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Multiple kidney cysts develop as a result of the genetic illness known as polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which eventually impairs kidney function.

PKD can be divided into two primary categories: Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD) and Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease (ARPKD).

PKD can lead to a number of complications, including kidney failure, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of kidney stones and urinary tract infections. There is currently no cure for PKD, but there are treatments available to manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

What are the types of Polycystic Kidney Disease?

There are two main types of Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), which differ in their genetic causes and patterns of inheritance:

  • Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD): ADPKD is the most common form of PKD and is caused by a mutation in either of two genes, PKD1 or PKD2. Because the syndrome is autosomal dominant, a person has a 50% chance of getting it from a parent who has it. Cysts commonly form in both kidneys in ADPKD, but they can also damage the liver and other organs.
  • Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease (ARPKD): ARPKD is a more uncommon variant of PKD that results from PKHD1 gene mutations. Because the disorder is autosomal recessive, a person needs to inherit two copies of the defective gene, one from each parent, in order to be affected. In ARPKD, cysts typically develop in the collecting ducts of the kidney and can also affect the liver.

Both types of PKD can lead to a decline in kidney function over time, but the rate and severity of progression can vary depending on the type and individual case. The goal of PKD treatment is to control symptoms and halt the disease's progression.

What causes Polycystic Kidney Disease?

Genetic mutations are the root cause of PKD, or polycystic kidney disease. Mutations in the PKD1, PKD2, and PKHD1 genes, respectively, result in the two main types of PKD, autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) and autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD). The hereditary nature of PKD means that it is transmitted from parent to kid.

What other health problems can (PKD) Polycystic Kidney Disease cause?

Some common symptoms of PKD include;

  • Pain in the side or back
  • Enlarged kidneys
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood in the urine
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Kidney stones
  • Cysts in other organs, such as the liver
  • Kidney failure


What are the symptoms of Polycystic Kidney Disease?

In addition to affecting the kidneys, PKD can also lead to a number of other health problems, including;

  • High blood pressure
  • A higher chance of kidney stones and urinary tract infections
  • Liver cysts
  • The aortic aneurysm (a bulging in the wall of the aorta, the main blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart)

What are the Risk Factors of Polycystic Kidney Disease?

A family history of the disease is the greatest risk factor for PKD. Other factors that may increase the risk of developing PKD include;

Age (PKD can develop at any age, but is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 30 and 60)Gender (men are more likely to develop PKD than women)

How can you prevent Polycystic Kidney Disease?

There is currently no way to prevent PKD, as it is a genetic disorder. However, early detection and intervention can lessen the chance of consequences while also slowing the disease's progression.


  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Get regular check-ups and kidney function tests
  • Take any medications or treatments as prescribed by your doctor


Avoid using tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption

Avoid taking over-the-counter pain medications without consulting your doctor

Polycystic Kidney Disease - Diagnosis and Tests

Diagnosis of Polycystic Kidney Disease typically involves several methods including;

  • Physical Exam: A doctor will perform a physical examination to look for signs of enlarged kidneys, high blood pressure, and other symptoms that may indicate the presence of PKD.
  • Medical History Review: A doctor will review a patient's medical history, including any history of kidney problems, to better understand the underlying cause of PKD and to determine the best course of treatment.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound produces images of the kidneys and surrounding tissues using high-frequency sound waves. This examination can assist identify the size and quantity of kidney cysts.
  • CT Scan: A CT scan creates detailed images of the kidneys, including the size and number of cysts, using X-rays and computer technology.
  • MRI: An MRI produces precise images of the kidneys using magnetic fields and radio waves. The size and quantity of kidney cysts that are present can also be determined by this test.
  • Genetic Testing: A PKD diagnosis may be supported by genetic testing. This type of testing looks for specific gene mutations that are known to cause PKD. If a person has a family history of PKD, genetic testing can help determine if they have inherited the condition.

What are the possible complications of Polycystic Kidney Disease?

The complications of PKD can include;

  • Kidney failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney stones and urinary tract infections are more likely to occur
  • Liver cysts
  • Aortic aneurysms

Home Remedies for Polycystic Kidney Disease?

There are no specific home remedies for PKD. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and eating a balanced diet can help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

What to eat in case of Polycystic Kidney Disease?

To manage symptoms and slow the progression of PKD, it is important to follow a diet that is;

  • High in fiber
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Stay hydrated
  • ​​A balanced diet low in salt
  • Limit processed and sugary foods

What not to eat in case of Polycystic Kidney Disease?

It is best to avoid foods that are;

  • Food items that are high in sugar and saturated fat
  • Packaged food
  • Sugary beverages
  • High-fat meat

Polycystic Kidney Disease Treatments

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a progressive and potentially life-threatening disease, but early treatment and management can help slow its progression and prevent complications. The main goals of PKD treatment are to control symptoms, prevent or delay kidney failure, and improve overall quality of life.

Treatment options for PKD include;

  • Medications: To control high blood pressure, relieve pain, and slow the progression of the disease.
  • Surgery: For symptomatic cysts or for cysts causing serious complications.
  • Dialysis: For severe PKD, where the kidneys have largely stopped functioning.
  • Kidney transplant: For end-stage kidney disease when the kidneys no longer function adequately.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Such as maintaining a balanced diet, managing blood pressure, and staying away from medications that can damage the kidneys.
  • Monitoring and managing complications: Such as monitoring for infections and regularly checking for changes in kidney function.

Which doctor to consult for Polycystic Kidney Disease?

For Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), it is recommended to consult a nephrologist or a kidney specialist. A physician with expertise in the identification and management of kidney-related illnesses and ailments is known as a nephrologist. They possess the knowledge and experience necessary to correctly identify PKD, track its development, and offer suitable treatments.

Additionally, a nephrologist can also coordinate with other healthcare professionals, such as a dietitian, to provide comprehensive care for PKD patients.

Which are the best medicines for Polycystic Kidney Disease?

The best medicine for Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) will vary depending on individual circumstances, the severity of the disease, and the presence of any other health conditions. However, a number of drugs can help treat PKD symptoms and delay the disease's development.

Common medications for PKD include;

  • Blood pressure-lowering medications: To control high blood pressure, which is a common complication of PKD
  • Pain relievers: To relieve discomfort caused by enlarged cysts
  • Antibiotics: To prevent or treat infections
  • Vasopressin analogs: To reduce the amount of urine produced and slow the progression of PKD.

How long does it take to recover from Polycystic Kidney Disease?

Recovery from Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) can be a slow and gradual process, and the length of recovery will vary depending on individual circumstances and the severity of the disease. When PKD reaches end-stage renal disease, dialysis or a kidney transplant may be necessary.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of treatment for PKD are not permanent and the disease may continue to progress even with treatment. Treatment, however, can help control symptoms, halt the spread of the illness, and enhance quality of life.

Who is eligible for the treatment?

Treatment for PKD is typically recommended for individuals who have been diagnosed with the disease and are experiencing symptoms or have developed complications. Treatment eligibility may also depend on factors such as age, overall health, and the presence of any other health conditions.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Individuals who are not eligible for treatment for PKD may include those who have not been diagnosed with the disease, individuals who are experiencing no symptoms or complications, and individuals who are not medically stable enough to undergo treatment. In order to choose the best course of action for treating PKD, it is crucial to speak with a medical expert.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

After undergoing treatment for Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), it is important to follow certain guidelines to help manage the disease and prevent further complications. Some of the post-treatment guidelines include;

  • Maintaining a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet that is low in salt and high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables can help manage symptoms and slow the progression of PKD.
  • Monitoring blood pressure: High blood pressure is a common complication of PKD, and monitoring blood pressure regularly can help prevent further damage to the kidneys.
  • Taking prescribed medications: Taking medications as prescribed by a healthcare professional can help manage symptoms and slow the progression of PKD.
  • Avoiding harmful substances: Avoiding substances such as tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs can help prevent further damage to the kidneys.
  • Staying hydrated: Water consumption in large quantities can ease renal strain and aid in the removal of toxins.
  • Regular follow-up appointments: Regular follow-up appointments with a healthcare professional can help monitor the progression of PKD and ensure that any new symptoms or complications are addressed in a timely manner.

How common is polycystic kidney disease?

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is one of the most common hereditary kidney diseases, affecting millions of people worldwide. The National Kidney Foundation estimates that 600,000 persons in the United States alone are afflicted by PKD.

Additionally, accounting for between 10% and 15% of all cases, PKD is the fourth most common cause of renal failure. All ages are affected by the condition, however middle age is when it is most frequently discovered.

What is the price of Polycystic Kidney Disease treatments in India?

The cost of treatment for Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) in India can significantly vary depending on the severity and the type of the ailment. If the condition is treatable with medication, the cost is generally lower. However, in cases where surgery is necessary, the costs can be significantly higher, ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 50,000.

The level of training and experience of the surgeon might also affect the price of surgery. It's critical to remember that, while cost is a significant consideration, selecting a skilled healthcare provider who can meet your unique needs should take precedence.

What are side-effects of Polycystic Kidney Disease treatments?

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) treatments can have varying side-effects depending on the type of treatment being used. Some common side-effects of PKD treatments include;

  • Medications: Common side-effects of medications used to treat PKD include nausea, headache, and fatigue. In some cases, medications can also cause more serious side-effects, such as liver and kidney damage, and should be used under the close supervision of a healthcare professional.
  • Surgery: Complications with PKD surgery include infection, bleeding, and blood clots. Surgery can occasionally cause a temporary or permanent loss of renal function.
  • Dialysis: Dialysis, which is a treatment for advanced PKD, can cause side-effects such as muscle cramps, low blood pressure, and infection.

Polycystic Kidney Disease - Outlook / Prognosis

A genetic condition, polycystic kidney disease (PKD) can result in the development of kidney cysts, which over time can cause the organs to expand and become dysfunctional. The outlook or prognosis for PKD varies greatly depending on the severity of the condition and other factors such as overall health and lifestyle.


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Content Details
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Written ByDr. Rajeev Sarpal DNB - Urology/GenitoUrinary SurgeryUrology
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Reviewed ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant SinghMD - Consultant PhysicianGeneral Physician
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