Polycystic Kidney Disease

This information is useful for children, adults, and older adults
A young man worried about his polycystic kidney disease diagnosis.

Polycystic kidney disease causes fluid-filled sacs called cysts to grow in the kidneys. The cysts can become large and cause scarring, which eventually harms the organs’ function. This disease is caused by a gene mutation, usually passed down by a parent.

While symptoms often first appear in young adulthood, polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, usually progresses slowly and variably in different patients. About half of patients with PKD will eventually have kidney failure, and will need kidney dialysis or a transplant.

“It usually takes more than five decades for individuals to progress to that degree of kidney injury,” says Stefan Somlo, MD, chief of nephrology at Yale Medicine.