PKD Diagnosis & Treatment

At present, PKD cannot be diagnosed by a single blood test. However, in some situations where it is important to have a diagnosis (for example, if a family member wants to donate a kidney to an affected parent or sibling, and ultrasound and CT scans are normal), special blood tests on at least three family members can be done to get a diagnosis in the at-risk individual. This form of testing is called gene linkage analysis.

About 50 percent of people with PKD will have kidney failure by age 60, and about 60 percent will have kidney failure by age 70. People with kidney failure will need dialysis or a kidney transplant. Certain people have an increased risk of kidney failure including:

  • men
  • patients with high blood pressure
  • patients with protein or blood in their urine
  • women with high blood pressure who have had more than three pregnancies

At present, there is no cure for PKD. However, a lot of research is being done. Many studies suggest that some treatments may slow the rate of kidney disease in PKD, but further research is needed before these treatments can be used in patients. Other studies are helping us understand the genetic basis of PKD.

In the meantime, many supportive treatments can be done to help prevent or slow down the loss of kidney function in people with PKD and control symptoms. These include:

  • careful control of blood pressure
  • prompt treatment with antibiotics of a bladder or kidney infection
  • lots of fluid when blood in the urine is first noted
  • medication to control pain (talk to your doctor about which over-the-counter medicines are safe to take if you have kidney disease)
  • a healthy lifestyle with regard to smoking cessation, exercise, weight control and reduced salt intake

At present, no specific diet is known to prevent cysts from developing in patients with PKD. Reducing salt intake helps control blood pressure in PKD patients who have high blood pressure. A diet low in fat and moderate in calories is recommended to maintain a healthy weight. Speak to your doctor about other changes to your diet, such as avoiding caffeine.