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Polycystic Kidney Disease: What It Is and How It's Diagnosed

Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder that affects the kidneys. The kidneys become enlarged and filled with fluid-filled sacs (cysts). These cysts can interfere with the kidney's ability to function properly. Polycystic kidney disease is a hereditary disorder, meaning it's passed down from parent to child.

Polycystic kidney disease usually progresses slowly and can cause kidney failure in some people. Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the risk of kidney damage.

How Is Polycystic Kidney Disease Diagnosed?

Polycystic kidney disease is usually diagnosed during a routine physical exam or imaging test for another condition. Your doctor may feel your kid

neys during a physical exam to check for enlargement. Images of your kidneys may be taken with an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI. A sample of your blood or urine may also be tested for genetic mutations that cause polycystic kidney disease.

1. Blood tests

Polycystic kidney disease can be diagnosed through a variety of blood tests, including tests to measure kidney function, electrolyte levels, and blood pressure.

2. Imaging tests

Imaging tests such as ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRI scans can also be used to diagnose polycystic kidney disease. These tests can he

lp to identify the presence of cysts on the kidneys.

3. Kidney biopsy

A kidney biopsy may also be performed in order to diagnose polycystic kidney disease. This procedure involves taking a small sample of tissue from the kidney for analysis.

4. Genetic testing

Genetic testing can be used to diagnose polycystic kidney disease if it is suspected that the condition is inherited. This test can help to identify changes in the genes that are associated with the condition.

5. Urinalysis

A urinalysis may also be performed in order to diagnose polycystic kidney disease. This test can help to identify changes in the urine that may be indicative of the condition.

What Are the Treatment Options?

There's no cure for polycystic kidney disease, but treatments are available that can relieve symptoms and also slow the progression of polycystic kidney disease.

Treatment options include:

• Medications. ACE inhibitors and ARBs can help reduce blood pressure and may help prevent further damage to your kidneys. Diuretics may also be prescribed to help remove excess fluid from your body.

• Surgery. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove cysts from the kidneys or other organs affected by polycystic kidney disease. In cases of kidney failure, a kidney transplant may be needed.

• Diet and lifestyle changes. Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce stress on your kidneys. Avoiding foods high in salt can also help keep blood pressure under control. Exercise may also help slow the progression of the disease.

• Dialysis or kidney transplantation. If polycystic kidney disease progresses to end-stage renal failure, you'll need either dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain your health.


If you have polycystic kidney disease, it's important to see your doctor regularly so that the condition can be monitored and treated as necessary. As discussed there is currently no cure for polycystic kidney disease, but with ongoing medical research, treatments are available and being developed that may reduce or relieve symptoms and possibly slow the progression of PKD making it possible to live close to a normal life. With early diagnosis and treatment, you can avoid serious complications from polycystic kidney disease.

The information on is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.


1. "Polycystic Kidney Disease." National Kidney Foundation, Accessed 20 Apr. 2020.

2. "Polycystic Kidney Disease." Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic, 25 Feb. 2019, Accessed 20 Apr. 2020.

3. "Polycystic Kidney Disease."WebMD, WebMD, Accessed 20 Apr. 2020.

4. "Kidney Disease: Polycystic Kidney Disease." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 Oct. 2019, Accessed 20 Apr. 2020.

5. "Polycystic Kidney Disease." MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 28 Oct. 2019, Accessed 20 Apr. 2020.

6. "PKD." National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Accessed 20 Apr. 2020.

7. "Polycystic Kidney Disease." Johns Hopkins Medicine, Accessed 20 Apr. 2020.

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