Polycystic Kidney Disease

This information is useful for children, adults, and older adults
worried young man
Why Yale Medicine?
  • A Chronic Kidney Disease Program offering patients a broad range of expertise
  • Physicians researching the latest treatment methods
  • Clinical trials offering patients access to innovative treatments

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 will eventually need either kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant as a result of end-stage kidney failure.

“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 and a professor of medicine (nephrology) at Yale School of Medicine.