Polycystic Kidney Disease: What is It & Types?

By Dr. Jatin Kothari in Nanavati Max Institute of Renal Sciences & Transplant , Kidney Dialysis Centre

Apr 24 , 2023 | 5 min read

What is Polycystic Kidney Disease?

Polycystic kidney disease is also known as PKD is a genetic disease. This means that it is caused by the variations or genetic character present in your genes. In PKD there are cystic formations in the kidney. When these cysts grow in number and/or size these make the kidney grow more than normal which in turn starts to damage the tissues present inside the kidney, which very often causes chronic kidney disease. These chronic kidney diseases can cause renal failures or end-stage renal failure. We at Nanavati Max provide the Best Kidney Specialists In Mumbai.

Types of Polycystic Kidney Disease

  • Autosomal Dominant PKD: It causes cysts only in adult kidneys, it is known as “adult PKD”. People with this type of PKD will not notice any symptoms present until they reach the age of 30 – 40. It is the common type of PKD; every 9 out of 10 people with PKD have autosomal dominant PKD.
  • Autosomal Recessive PKD: it can grow in both, a kidney and a liver. It is often called infantile PKD as babies can show signs of PKD in the first few months of their life, or even before they are born. It is very less common and can often be life-threatening for the infant.

Cysts are sacs filled with fluids. The cysts in PKD grow from the nephron present in the kidney. People with PKD can have thousands of cysts present in their kidneys at once which can range up to 30 pounds. We try to be one of the Best Urology Hospitals In Mumbai with a team of the greatest doctors.

Also Read About Types of Kidney Diseases

PKD is almost always inherited from one or both parents. Men and women have equal rates and chances for the occurrence of PKD, thus we can say that it can happen to anyone of any race, sex, age, or ethnicity. If a person does not have PKD but has its genes, they are a possible carrier of the disease. This is especially possible for autosomal recessive PKD. Best Nephrologists In India say that a good routine is a way to succeed in the control of PKD.

Polycystic Kidney Disease Causes

Genetics is the cause of polycystic kidney disease.

  • It means you can inherit it from one or both parents. If parents have the disease, there is a high chance of passing it to their children. Sometimes the parent may not have the disease but carries a recessive gene that becomes active in the child.
  • A gene mutation is another cause of polycystic kidney disease. It occurs randomly, meaning the disease can affect anyone regardless of age, race, and ethnicity.

Signs & Symptoms of Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic kidney disease signs and symptoms may not manifest until the cysts are half-inch in size or larger. They include:

  • High blood pressure. It is usually the first sign and begins early after the disease's onset
  • Persistent pain that occurs in the side or back
  • Blood in the urine that may appear pink, red, or brown
  • Enlargement in the kidneys causes the increased size of the abdomen
  • Bloating and fullness of the stomach due to stomach enlargement
  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Kidney stones that can cause severe pain
  • Kidney failure as the cysts occupy a large part of the kidney
  • Headaches are also a common symptom of polycystic kidney disease

Polycystic Kidney Disease Diagnosis

Polycystic kidney disease diagnosis can include the following tests:

  • A kidney ultrasound is the most common method of diagnosis. It is mainly used if the disease runs in your family.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) scan can also be used. However, it involves radiation and iodinated die that can be toxic to the kidneys.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is mainly used to check for complications such as bleeding or kidney stones. More so, it is the best option for detecting small cysts.

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Polycystic Kidney Disease Treatment

Doctors can use the following polycystic kidney disease treatments depending on their progression.

  • Managing blood pressure: Blood pressure is a major symptom of polycystic kidney disease. Your doctor helps you manage it with drugs, exercise, and diet to prevent other conditions such as stroke and heart failure.
  • Breathing support is mainly for infants with underdeveloped lungs
  • Dialysis: It is for patients with kidney failure where the blood is filtered outside the body (hemodialysis) or using the belly lining with a special fluid (peritoneal dialysis).
  • Growth therapy: Underweight infants may require assisted growth through nutritional therapy or human growth hormone.
  • Pain management: Pain medications are used to control pains resulting from infections, kidney stones or bursts, and headaches. Over-the-counter drugs can damage the kidney. Ensure your doctor recommends the safest painkillers.
  • Kidney transplant: Your kidney may require replacement if the disease progresses to end-stage renal failure.

Also Read About the Best Hospital for Kidney Transplant in India

Many types of research have shown that there is no possible way to prevent the occurrence of PKD. Nanavati Max is a very renowned kidney hospital, and we are dedicated to providing our patients with the best possible solutions to keep their issues to a minimum and live a happy and healthy life which is a need. However, kidney function can be maintained by following a healthy lifestyle, such as:

  • Keeping a normal blood pressure.
  • Maintaining a healthy blood sugar level.
  • Following and maintaining a normal BMI.
  • Intake of alcohol should be limited.
  • There needs to be an intake of low salt and a low-fat diet.
  • Smoking and the use of tobacco should be stopped as soon as possible.
  • Most importantly, exercise should be done, for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • One should always avoid taking an overdose of over-the-counter medications.

Complications Related to Polycystic Kidney Diseases

If a person looks into the complications associated with PKD, they can be seen as follows:

  • The most common complication for people with PKD is kidney pain and high blood pressure.
  • Kidney failure is also an outcome of chronic PKD.
  • Kidney Stones occur in a few cases.
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pancreatic cysts develop while PKD
  • Heart valve problems start.
  • Preeclampsia which is a serious pregnancy problem develops in case a pregnant woman has ADPKD and high blood pressure.

Genetic testing can help to identify whether you are a carrier or not. This testing can simply be done by taking a sample of your saliva or blood. PKHD1 is a specific gene responsible for PKD. Symptoms and signs of ADPKD are visible even before a child is born. Regular ultrasounds of the pregnant woman can show a clear increase in the size of the kidney of the newborn. Another sign is a lack of amniotic fluid. In the early months of pregnancy mother’s body produces amniotic fluid by the second-trimester fetus starts to produce its amniotic fluid. So babies which badly damaged kidneys cannot produce enough amniotic fluid.

Reviewed By

Dr. Jatin Kothari (Director of Nephrology & Chief Consultant of Renal Transplant Medicine)

Dr. Jatin Kothari, Director of Nephrology & Chief Consultant, Renal Transplant Medicine, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital is one of India's foremost nephrologists with experience spanning over 25 years. He is considered an authority on Dialysis and living, deceased, swap, or domino transplantation.