Cystic kidney disease causes cysts (sacs of fluid) to form in or around the kidneys. There are many types of cystic kidney disease. Some are the result of abnormal genes; others start during fetal development or as a result of kidney failure. Both adults and infants can have cystic kidney disease. Treatment usually includes medication, dialysis or kidney transplant surgery.
Cystic kidney disease (CKD) describes a group of conditions that cause cysts (fluid-filled sacs) to form in or around the kidneys. Kidney cysts can prevent the kidneys from filtering water and waste out of your blood. Cystic kidney disease can lead to kidney failure.
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There are several types of CKD. Some are the result of mutations (changes) to certain genes that are usually inherited (passed from parents to children). Others may develop during a person’s lifetime, or they might be congenital (present at birth). Cysts can also appear in the kidney later in life.
Genetic cystic kidney diseases include:
Non-genetic cystic kidney diseases include:
Risk factors for CKD vary widely across the different types. In general, you’re more likely to get it if you:
Some cystic kidney diseases are very common. For instance, simple kidney cysts occur in about 1 out of 10 people. But other forms of the disease are very rare.
Cystic kidney diseases can be the result of genetic mutations. Or they might develop over time due to diseases, birth defects or age. The cysts themselves occur when pieces of the renal tubes detach from the parent tube. The kidneys have thousands of tiny tubes that clean your blood and release urine into the bladder.
The various cystic kidney diseases have different symptoms. Some of the most common among them include:
Some of the more common complications of the various cystic kidney diseases include:
Your healthcare provider evaluates your symptoms and medical history. They may do one or more of the following imaging tests to check for kidney cysts:
Simple kidney cysts that aren’t causing symptoms may not need treatment. Your healthcare provider might monitor the cysts and do ultrasounds to make sure they don’t grow or spread. If cysts are causing symptoms, your healthcare provider may be able to drain or remove the cysts.
Treatment for more complex forms of cystic kidney disease may include:
There’s no way to prevent CKD. But talking to your healthcare provider when you first notice symptoms may help slow the progression of some forms of cystic kidney disease.
There’s no cure for cystic kidney disease, but there are many treatment options to slow the progression of polycystic kidney disease. Most people can lead full lives, but may need dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms. These could be signs of sudden kidney failure:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Cystic kidney disease describes a group of disorders that cause cysts to form in or around your kidneys. Some people inherit CKD through abnormal genes; others develop CKD over time. Sometimes kidney cysts are harmless. But certain forms of cystic kidney disease (such as polycystic kidney disease) can prevent your kidneys from working properly, resulting in serious health problems. People with CKD may need medication to manage complications such as high blood pressure, dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/28/2021.
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