Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is passed down through families (inherited), usually as an autosomal dominant trait. If one parent carries the gene, the children have a 50% chance of developing the disorder.
Autosomal dominant PKD occurs in both children and adults, but it is much more common in adults. Symptoms often do not appear until middle age. It affects nearly 1 in 1,000 Americans. The actual number may be more, because some people do not have symptoms.
An autosomal recessive form of PKD also exists. It appears in infancy or childhood. This form is much less common than autosomal dominant PKS, but it tends to be very serious and gets worse quickly. It can cause serious lung and liver disease, end-stage kidney disease, and it usually causes death in infancy or childhood.
Persons with PKD have many clusters of cysts in the kidneys. What exactly triggers the cysts to form is unknown.
PKD is associated with the following conditions:
- Aortic aneurysms
- Brain aneurysms
- Cysts in the liver, pancreas, and testes
- Diverticula of the colon
As many as half of people with PKD have cysts on the liver. A family history of PKD increases your risk for the condition.