Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic kidney disease is a disease in which the kidneys grow many small fluid-filled cysts. These cysts squeeze healthy kidney tissue, hurting the function of the kidneys. Polycystic kidney disease is present at birth and often causes progressive loss of kidney function and high blood pressure (hypertension). In milder forms of the disease, kidney function may be adequate throughout life.


The condition is usually inherited from parents. 


  • Hypertension.  

  • Not enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your tissues (anemia).  

  • Pain in middle and side of the back below ribs (flank pain). This can happen if a cyst is bleeding.  

  • Blood in the urine.  

  • Kidney failure.  

  • Kidney stones.  

  • Increased urination at night.  

  • Liver disease and liver cysts.  


Your health care provider will ask you about your history and symptoms and perform a physical exam. Tests may be done to diagnose the condition. They may include an ultrasound, CT scan, or an MRI scan. Sometimes chromosome studies are done to see if you have the genes to have polycystic kidneys.


  • There is no treatment at this time to keep cysts from forming or getting larger.

  • Cysts may need to be drained with a needle if they are large, putting pressure on other organs, and further destroying kidney tissue. This may require surgery.

  • Hypertension may be treated with medicines. Treating hypertension slows down further damage to the kidneys.

  • If kidney failure occurs, dialysis or transplantation is used to treat the disease.


You should follow up with a kidney specialist (nephrologist) so that your kidney function is monitored.


  • You have severe pain in the flank area.

  • You have blood in your urine.