Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is the most common inherited kidney disorder in the world, often leading to kidney failure.

In addition to causing cysts in the kidneys, PKD can cause cysts in the liver and brain aneurysms. If the disease is left untreated, patients may need dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive.

The PKD program — led by Pranav Garimella, MD, MPH — is part of UC San Diego Health's Kidney Care (Nephrology) program. Our goal is to provide comprehensive care to adult patients with this genetic disease, including the management of symptoms in the kidney and liver, and related health complications.

We are dedicated to using the latest advances in medicine to keep you and your family feeling your best.

Why Choose Us?

As part of the only academic medical center in San Diego County, our doctors are involved in providing state-of-the-art clinical care and collaborating with researchers to develop new therapies for kidney disease.

We are also designated as a Center of Excellence by the PKD Foundation. This honor means you'll receive the highest level of comprehensive, patient-focused care from a team of experts in various specialties.

PKD Symptoms and Diagnosis

Polycystic kidney disease is a type of chronic kidney disease that causes fluid-filled cysts to grow in your kidneys, enlarging and damaging them over time. PKD can also affect other organs and cause serious health issues, such as cysts in the liver, blood vessel problems, hypertension (high blood pressure) and kidney failure.

An inherited condition, polycystic kidney disease is not preventable, but it is possible to slow disease progression through medical care and changes in lifestyle. Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease — also known as ADPKD — is the most common type of PKD, accounting for 90% of all cases.

It's possible to have PKD for years without you realizing it until the development of symptoms, typically between ages 30 and 40. The symptoms can include:

  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Chronic headaches
  • Chronic pain in the back or side
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney failure
  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney infections
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Before determining the proper course of treatment, we thoroughly evaluate your condition and needs. Our expert nephrologists (kidney specialists) use the most up-to-date diagnostic options, including imaging tools such as ultrasound, MRI and CT scans, to accurately diagnose and monitor the progression of the disease. We may also recommend genetic testing to check for mutated genes that cause PKD.

Comprehensive, Customized Treatment for PKD

We provide care for individuals over age 18. We personalize your treatment plan based on your symptoms with a focus on your comfort. We also devise a long-term follow-up care plan to hasten your recovery.

There is no cure for PKD currently, so our services are focused on slowing disease progression, preventing and treating related complications and symptoms as soon as possible. Treatment options include:

In addition to standard approaches, you may qualify for a clinical trial, which can give you early access to the most promising new therapies and advanced treatment options for polycystic kidney disease.

Find a Clinical Trial


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