Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) - Diagnosis & Treatment

How is polycystic kidney disease (PKD) diagnosed?

After checking your symptoms and medical history, your doctor will require some diagnostic tests, including:

  • Ultrasound. To view your kidneys via ultrasound, a transducer will be placed on your skin and moved through your body. This non-invasive diagnostic test is used to evaluate the size, shape, and location of your kidneys.
  • Computed tomography (CT scan). Using X-rays and computer technology, a CT scan can provide images or "slices" of your body, therefore providing detailed information about your kidneys.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A MRI scan can create a complete image of your kidneys through the use of radio waves and strong magnets.

How is polycystic kidney disease (PKD) treated?

Treatment options are aimed at managing your symptoms and the complications associated with this disease. Depending on your existing condition, your doctor will suggest a treatment plan that suits you best. This may involve:

  • Blood pressure control and management. A blood pressure control plan can delay the development of the disease and prevent subsequent kidney damage.
  • Increased fluid intake. Increasing fluid intake to help dilute urine can help manage your condition and avoid the incidence of blood in the urine.
  • Surgery to drain the cysts. Surgery may be recommended to drain the cysts if they are causing severe pain or blocking other organs and blood vessels.
  • Kidney dialysis. If your kidneys fail to remove excess fluid and waste from the body, your doctor will recommend dialysis. Dialysis can help remove excess fluid and control high blood pressure.
  • Kidney transplant. In this procedure, a diseased kidney is replaced with a healthy kidney from either a deceased donor or from a living donor.
  • Vaptans. As part of recent developments, a new class of medications called vaptans have been developed to slow the growth rate of cysts. Please discuss with your nephrologist to understand if this option is appropriate for you.
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