Polycystic Kidney Disease Program
Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) causes fluid-filled sacs called cysts to grow in the kidneys. The cysts can become large and cause scarring, eventually harming the organs’ function. This disease is caused by a gene mutation, usually passed down by a parent.
Polycystic kidney disease is typically diagnosed using imaging studies, such as ultrasound, which will show the cysts in the kidneys. A genetic test performed on a blood or saliva sample can detect the gene mutations that cause the disease.
The Yale Medicine Polycystic Kidney Disease Program, recognized as a Center of Excellence by the PKD Foundation, offers patients the opportunity to receive care from experts who can explain the nuances of inherited disorders to patients and skillfully manage the illness.
Yale Medicine offers opportunities for patients with polycystic kidney disease to take part in clinical trials, which aim to help doctors better understand the disease and evaluate new treatment approaches. The experts at Yale Medicine are also at the forefront of basic research into the mechanisms underlying cyst formation. By seamlessly combining clinical expertise with research engagement, we provide patients with the best care and knowledge the PKD field has to offer.
Meet our specialists
Adult Nephrology Specialists
Marcelo Orias, MD, PhDNephrologyMarcelo Orias, MD, PhD, is a nephrologist and sees patients with general kidney disease, but also specializes in treating hypertension, which is common in patients with chronic kidney disease. A fourth-generation physician, Dr. Orias says he always knew he wanted to be a doctor, but he didn’t settle on nephrology as a specialty until medical school. “It’s probably in my genes to be a doctor, and when I discovered nephrology I enjoyed its physiology,” he says. “It’s very complex.” When meeting with patients, Dr. Orias says he tries to use common words to break down the complexity and to illustrate how the kidneys work and how certain diseases affect their function. “The kidneys are probably the main reason why people have high blood pressure. It’s a vicious circle where increased blood pressure makes the kidneys worse, and it’s important that this is noticed and treated or else a patient can end up on dialysis,” Dr. Orias says. “But if we catch it early enough, it can be treated with dietary and lifestyle changes and blood pressure medication.” Part of the problem, he explains, is that you can have problems in your kidneys and not know it. “As we age, our blood pressure increases. Roughly sixty percent of people who are 60 years old have hypertension and 90 percent of those who are 90 have it. It’s very important to have your blood work checked because you can have damage to your kidneys and be asymptomatic,” says Dr. Orias, who also treats many young patients, a population that is increasing in kidney disease. His research interests include phenotypes in hypertension. Dr. Orias is also vice president of the World Hypertension League, an organization dedicated to addressing hypertension at the population level.
Aldo Peixoto, MDNephrologyAldo Peixoto, MD, is the chief of nephrology at Yale Medicine. He specializes in resistant and secondary forms of hypertension, cardiovascular dysautonomia (an autonomic nervous system disorder) and in general consultative nephrology and hypertension. Dr. Peixoto received his medical degree from the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil in 1992. He was a medical resident and chief medical resident at the University of Connecticut Health Center from 1992 to 1996 and later completed a nephrology fellowship at Yale University. In 1998, he joined Yale Medicine as a full-time faculty member. As a clinician, Dr. Peixoto believes in letting his patients share in the decision-making process. “It’s not about what I want the patient to do. It’s about what the two of us can agree on that is important for the patient and then moving forward as a team,” he says. In order to accomplish this, Dr. Peixoto tries to understand patients’ preferences early on—whether it’s certain types of medication or if their lifestyle prevents them from accessing certain treatments. This type of information is particularly important in diseases where there is not enough scientific research to make a strong recommendation and there is some flexibility in treatment options, says Dr. Peixoto. In addition to seeing patients, Dr. Peixoto conducts research on how blood pressure, the vascular system, and kidney disease affect each other. At the Yale School of Medicine, he is a professor of medicine (nephrology).