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Polycystic Kidney Disease
(NK012)

Introduction


Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a hereditary disorder that causes fluid-filled cysts to form in the nephrons of the kidneys. These cysts can grow so large and so numerous that they crowd out the normal kidney tissue, rendering the kidneys unable to function normally. Damage to the kidneys is caused by structural deformities caused by the enlarging cysts as well as by elevations in blood pressure (hypertension). Cysts can also form in other organs such as the liver.

PKD affects approximately 600,000 persons in the United States. It is one of the most common hereditary diseases and the fourth leading cause of kidney failure. It seems to affect all races and both genders equally.

Persons with autosomal dominant PKD often exhibit no symptoms and the disease can not be diagnosed by routine blood work in its early stages. Therefore, persons may have the disease for years before it is diagnosed. Once cysts have formed, they can be seen with noninvasive ultrasound imaging.

There is no cure for PKD. Medications or surgery may be used for pain control, to reduce blood pressure and for the treatment of infection. Dialysis is usually eventually necessary to perform functions (removal of toxins from the blood) that the kidneys are no longer able to do. Kidney transplant may be an option for persons with advanced PKD.

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