What is PKD?
Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic disorder which causes multiple cysts to develop on the kidneys in groups. As the cysts develop they begin to inhibit kidney function causing diminished production or potentially complete renal failure. PKD can develop in two forms, autosomal dominant and autosomal recessive.
Autosomal Dominant PKD and Autosomal Recessive PKD
Autosomal dominant PKD is the most common form of PKD, affecting nearly 1 in 1,000 Americans, according to the United States National Library of Medicine. As a dominant trait, a child has a 50-percent chance of being affected if a parent carries the gene. Autosomal dominant PKD can develop in a child, however most cases occur when the affected individual is an adult.
Autosomal recessive PKD is less common than the dominant form, with a child born to two parents carrying the gene having a 25-percent chance of being affected by PKD. Although lower in instance-of-occurrence, autosomal recessive PKD is more aggressive, often resulting in complete renal failure while the affected individual is still a child. Autosomal recessive PKD carries an increased risk, and often leads to death in young children without proper treatment.
Life with PKD
PKD is often a very painful disease as the cysts grow. The increased kidney size can cause pressure to be placed on adjacent internal organs, and the inflamation can lead to sensitivity of the abdomen. Additionally, individuals with PKD are at an increased risk of liver failure and high blood pressure, and may suffer from pain in the joints and drowsiness.
In the event of decreases in kidney production as the cysts develop, many individuals with PKD must undergo dialysis to assist with, or fully handle, the removal of harmful wastes in urine. Individuals also may require a kidney transplant in order to replace the inflamed kidneys. Due to the lack of systemic or autoimmune diseases attached to PKD, individuals with PKD are ideal candidates for kidney transplant in the event of renal failure.