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Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)

Kidney cysts

As PKD progresses, the size and number of the kidney cysts may increase and begin to affect how your kidneys function.

About

PKD is the most common inherited kidney disorder, but it can occur spontaneously in people with no family history of PKD. Many with PKD live for a few decades without symptoms, which often don't arise until a person is 30 to 60 years old. Over time, a polycystic kidney is often enlarged. High blood pressure is common and kidney failure can also occur.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) icon plus

    The most common symptom is pain in the back or sides, or between the ribs and hips. The pain may be mild or severe, temporary or persistent. People with PKD may also experience complications such as: - high blood pressure (hypertension) - persistent or recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) - blood in the urine (haematuria) - cysts on the liver (polycystic liver disease) or pancreas - abnormal heart valves - kidney stones - aneurysms (bulges in the walls of blood vessels) in the brain, which can bleed and cause a stroke - diverticulosis (small pouches that bulge outward through the colon) - loss of kidney function, also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD)
  • Diagnosis icon plus

    As PKD is inherited, your consultant may ask about your family's medical history, in addition to your symptoms. Tests recommended to aid diagnosis may include: - A physical examination to check for enlarged kidneys and hypertension. - A blood test to measure your estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) ‒ how many millilitres of waste your kidneys can filter in a minute. - Urine tests to check for blood or protein in your urine. - An ultrasound where findings are based on age-dependent criteria. For example, the presence of at least three cysts in each kidney by age 30 in someone with a family history of the disease can confirm a PKD diagnosis.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    There is no cure for PKD but treatment can ease symptoms, delay dialysis and prolong life. Your consultant will discuss your treatment options with you and help to determine the best approach for you. These may include: - Tolvaptan, which slows the progression of cyst development and helps protect renal function. In most cases this is likely to significantly delay the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant. - Paracetamol, codeine or tramadol for pain relief. - Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) or ureteroscopy to remove kidney stones. - Dialysis as an option for kidney failure. A machine is used to replicate some functions of your kidney.
Consultant with patient

Our consultants

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

Our facilities

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

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    The Princess Grace Hospital

    42-52 Nottingham Place

    London W1U 5NY

    Appointments 020 3131 7216
    Enquiries 020 3130 6833

  • Wellington-south-hero-facility-582-582

    The Wellington Hospital

    Wellington Place

    London NW8 9LE

    Appointments 0207 483 5148
    Enquiries 020 3131 7478

  • London Bridge Hospital Facility

    London Bridge Hospital

    27 Tooley Street

    London

    SE1 2PR

    Appointments and Enquiries 020 7234 2009
    Imaging Appointments 020 7234 2773
    Switchboard 020 7407 3100

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    The Harley Street Clinic

    35 Weymouth Street

    London

    W1G 8BJ

    Appointments 020 7034 8181
    Enquiries 020 3131 7962

  • The Portland Hospital Facility

    The Portland Hospital

    205 - 209 Great Portland Street

    London

    W1W 5AH

    Children's enquiries 020 7390 8020
    Maternity enquiries 020 7390 6068
    Gynaecology enquiries 020 7390 6200

  • The Lister Hospital Facility

    The Lister Hospital

    Chelsea Bridge Road

    London

    SW1W 8RH

    Appointments 020 7811 4000
    Enquiries 020 3131 4978

Request an appointment

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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