Polycystic Kidney Disease | Overview

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What is polycystic kidney disease?

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited disease that affects the kidneys. Sacs of fluid (called cysts) grow in the kidneys. If too many cysts grow or if they get too big, the kidneys become damaged. The cysts may also cause pain or may get infected.

PKD is the most common inherited disease in the United States. Children of parents who have PKD have a 50% chance of getting the disease.

How will PKD affect me?

For many people, PKD is mild and causes only minor problems. PKD is more severe for some people and can cause kidney failure. About 60% of people who have PKD also have high blood pressure, which can be treated with medicine.

About 50% of patients who have PKD have kidney failure by age 60. Dialysis (blood filtering) and kidney transplants are both effective treatments for kidney failure.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 01/11
Created: 09/00

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