Polycystic Kidney Disease | Diagnosis & Tests


How is PKD diagnosed?

PKD is often diagnosed when a person begins to have the symptoms of PKD, but not all people who have PKD will have all of these symptoms.

If you have symptoms of PKD or if you are at risk for the disease, your doctor may want you to have an ultrasound exam. An ultrasound exam uses sound waves to create a picture of your organs and can detect cysts on the kidneys. Your doctor may also order a CT (computerized tomography) scan to look for cysts in the kidney.

Can PKD be diagnosed in unborn babies?

Yes. PKD can be diagnosed in unborn babies using a test called amniocentesis. During this test, a very small amount of the amniotic fluid is taken out of the womb. The fluid is then tested. Another test, called chorionic villus sampling, involves testing a very small piece of the placenta. If you have PKD and you're pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, talk with your doctor about these procedures.

Who should be checked for PKD?

If one of your parents has PKD, you should consider having an ultrasound exam of your kidneys. If you have PKD and you also have a relative who has had a brain aneurysm, your doctor may suggest that you have a CT or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of your brain to check for an aneurysm. (MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce a picture of your brain.) If you are at high risk of an aneurysm, your doctor may suggest that you have CT or MRI of the brain every 5 years to detect an aneurysm before it causes problems.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 09/00