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Polycystic Kidney Disease

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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 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 the best.

PKD Center of Excellence sealWhy 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 multidisciplinary 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.

As it is an inherited condition, PKD is not preventable, but it is possible to slow disease progression through medical management and lifestyle change. 

Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease — also known as ADPKD — is the most common type of PKD, accounting for 90 percent of all cases. It’s possible to have this genetic kidney disease for years without you realizing it until the development of symptoms, typically between ages 30 and 40. 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’ll 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 scan, 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

Kidney Care Locations

La Jolla: Perlman Medical Offices

Hillcrest: Medical Offices South
2nd Floor, Suite 4

We provide care for individuals over the age of 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 and on 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. 

Multidisciplinary Care Team

To provide comprehensive care, we collaborate with providers in other specialties who have expertise in polycystic kidney disease, such as urologists, transplant surgeons, radiologists, genetic counselors and more. Our care team includes:

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