Polycystic Kidney Disease



PKD is caused by a faulty gene. Other people have it due to changes in a certain gene.

Risk Factors

The risk of PKD is higher in people who have a parent with the disease.



Some people have symptoms at birth while others do not have problems until later in life. Symptoms also differ from person to person.

Problems may be:

  • Pain in the back or side
  • Blood in the urine (pee)
  • Belly pain
  • Passing urine more often than usual


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.

Blood and urine tests will be done to check kidney function.

Pictures may be taken of the kidneys. This can be done with:

  • Ultrasound
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan



The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms and prevent other health problems. Options are:

  • Medicines to:
    • Ease pain
    • Treat cysts that are bleeding
    • Lower high blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Dietary changes, such as drinking plenty of fluids and eating a low sodium diet
  • Dialysis to remove waste from the blood

Some people may need surgery to:

  • Drain or remove cysts to ease pain, bleeding, or a blockage
  • Remove one or both kidneys—nephrectomy
  • Replace a damaged kidney —kidney transplant


There is no known way to prevent PKD.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.