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Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is the number four cause of kidney failure in Americans, and an estimated 600,000 people in the United States currently have it. About half of the people diagnosed with PKD will experience end stage renal disease (ESRD) and will need dialysis or a kidney transplant. So what is PKD all about?
Typically, a kidney is about the size of a closed fist. But for those who inherit PKD, cysts that are filled with fluid form in the kidneys and can change their size, interfering with normal kidney function.
PKD is commonly believed to equally affect men and women of all races. However, some studies have shown that the disease may occur more often in Caucasians than in African-Americans and in females more often than males.
Polycystic kidney disease is hereditary and there are two forms of the disease that are passed down from a parent:
Because many people with PKD have no signs or symptoms, some people can live their entire life not knowing they have the disease. In these cases, routine blood and urine tests may not even show any signs of PKD.
Ultrasound is most commonly used to detect initial-stage ADPKD, and it can reveal cysts in a fetus’s kidneys, while it is still in the womb when detecting ARPKD (ultrasound imaging has no side effects and is safe for all patients). Sound waves pass harmlessly through the kidneys and create a picture for the doctor to examine. The doctor will be able to see the cysts if they are large enough.
By identifying the processes that trigger the formation of kidney cysts, and experimenting with drugs that can inhibit or block them, there is hope that research will lead to improvements in treating PKD and a cure.
To discuss more about PKD and how it affects you and your family, find a kidney doctor in your area today.
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