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Research on Polycystic Kidneys


Polycystic kidney is one of the most common diseases that have affected many people in the world. It is a severe disease that affects most people by developing cysts around the kidney, making it difficult for the kidney to function well due to its swollen state. The patient gets worse when these cysts get filled with fluid and start to grow large to the extent that they affect the kidney’s normal functionality. In the worst-case scenario, polycystic kidney disease can cause kidney failure if not detected and treated early. Polycystic kidney disease is inherited and affects other organs in the patient’s body, especially the liver, pancreas, and heart. The disease worsens over time; hence persons must conduct regular checks to help diagnose the disease early for proper medication before it worsens. This condition may force the patient to undergo dialysis as a treatment mechanism.


Polycystic kidneys are a genetic disorder that affects the renal system. They can cause a wide range of health complications, including more fluid in the kidney (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases). It is characterized by the growth of multiple cysts in both kidneys, which can lead to renal failure and other serious medical conditions. Polycystic kidney disease is one of the most associated with underlying immunological dysregulation that poses a risk of viral infection (Clinical Trials Week, 2020). The precise cause of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is still being researched, but it is believed to be inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern. There are currently two types of PKD: autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) and autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD). This research paper will explore the demographics of patients suffering from Polycystic kidney disease, the causes, signs and symptoms, treatment, and dietary requirements for patients suffering from polycystic kidney disease.

Demographics of Polycystic kidneys in the world

According to Johnson and Cataldo (2022), over 12.5 million people are affected with polycystic kidney disease. The world, while over 60000 Americans suffer from the disease in the US. The annual infection rate of Polycystic kidneys in the US has been estimated to be around 8-10%. This number has increased over the years due to changes in lifestyle and environmental factors. The disease is more prevalent in certain ethnicities, such as Asians and Native Americans. Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease is the most common type, in which statistics show that one in every 400-1000 people is suffering from the disease. Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease is a mild type where one in every 10000 is affected.

Causes of polycystic kidneys

The most common causes of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) are genetic mutations in either two of the PKD1 or PKD2 genes, (Bitarafa &Garshasbi,2019). Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic disorder characterized by the growth of multiple cysts in the kidneys. It is caused by mutations in the genes that control the formation and growth of the cysts and can be inherited from a person’s parents. PKD can also occur spontaneously in the absence of family history. Parents may pass these genes to their children. Thus the disorder is inheritable. These mutations cause a problem in the development of the kidneys, leading to multiple cysts. Other causes of PKD include autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease, tuberous sclerosis, and acquired cystic kidney disease. Once it has developed, polycystic kidneys are likely to trigger the development of cysts in the liver, which further results in more painful complications for the patient. Polycystic kidneys can occur in any person, man or woman, and all races.

Signs and symptoms of polycystic kidney

There are two primary types of polycystic kidneys; autosomal dominant polycystic kidney and autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease. Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease is the most lethal monogenic disorder (Health & Medicine Week, 2019). This has made it difficult for medical researchers to develop the most appropriate drug to heal the disorder. Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease is characterized by the development and enlargement of cysts in the kidney (Nowak & Hopp, 2020). Each of these two displays distinct signs and symptoms. Other signs and symptoms common with autosomal dominant polycystic kidneys include severe headaches, blood in urine, high blood pressure, frequent urination, kidney failure, and persistent back pain (PR Newswire, 2017). Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease is characterized by enlarged kidneys and low amniotic fluid levels that can result in a baby not producing enough use in the uterus. There is significant growth failure of the inborn baby or low birth weight. In adults, the development of polycystic kidney disease is likely to result in brain aneurysms, colon problems, heart valve problems, kidney failure, growth of kidney stones, and high blood pressure. In addition to those problems, further complications may follow, characterized by the growth of liver and pancreatic cysts. This is eminent in women where the hormones and multiple pregnancies are likely to trigger faster growth of these cysts. The complications caused by polycystic kidney disease in babies include high blood pressure, kidney failure, liver problems, and breathing problems resulting from underdeveloped lungs. Other symptoms associated with polycystic kidney disease include blood in urine, enlarged size of the abdomen, and infections in the kidney or urinary tract.

A patient suffering from polycystic kidney disease is at risk of developing an aneurysm in the brain. Aneurysms can cause hemorrhage in the event it ruptures. In women, pregnancy complications are eminent because women who suffer from polycystic kidneys develop a disorder known as preeclampsia. This disorder can cause a decline in kidney functionality or cause high blood pressure.

Polycystic Kidney

Laboratory testing and findings

The diagnosis of polycystic kidney disease can be conducted using various test criteria. The tests help detect the number and size of cysts a patient may have and evaluate the volume of healthy kidney tissue. Ultrasound is one of the tests used in diagnosing a patient with polycystic kidney disease. Ultrasound is a noninvasive imaging technique used to detect the presence of polycystic kidney disease (PKD). The technique uses a transducer device that is placed in the patient’s body to help generate detailed images of the kidneys and other internal organs. Ultrasound images can show the presence of multiple cysts in the kidneys, which is a classic symptom of polycystic kidney disease. The size and number of cysts can be determined, and the ultrasound can also help to reveal any organ enlargement or changes in the kidney architecture. Ultrasound can also be used to measure kidney size and assess kidney function.

Polycystic kidney disease can be tested using CT scan technology. The patient lies on a movable table, guided into a doughnut-shaped device that can project thin X-ray beams into the body. It allows the doctor to see the images of the kidney in a cross-sectional view. It can also help identify complications in the urinary tract or other organs. The CT Scan can also help measure the amount of fluid in the kidneys, which can help determine the disease’s severity.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology is another diagnostic method used to trace the presence of cysts in the kidney. MRI scans can detect the presence of multiple fluid-filled cysts characteristic of polycystic kidney disease. These images can also help determine the size and location of the cysts and can help the doctor differentiate between polycystic kidney disease and other conditions that may have similar symptoms. MRI images can also help to determine the extent of damage to the kidneys caused by the cysts and can help the doctor plan the most effective treatment for the patient.

Laboratory tests such as renal biopsy can help diagnose polycystic kidney disease (PKD) by allowing a pathologist to examine the tissue and look for cysts in the kidneys. In PKD, the cysts are filled with fluid and can replace much of the normal functioning tissue of the kidney. A biopsy can help confirm the diagnosis and provide information about the size, shape, and number of cysts. This information can help determine the disease’s severity and the best course of treatment.

Treatment of polycystic kidneys

Polycystic kidney disease often leads to kidney failure. To treat this condition, a patient may need to undergo dialysis, where a machine is used to perform kidney functions. Another treatment course for polycystic kidney disease is through a kidney transplant. Many people have embraced the latter method because one can survive with only one kidney. In 2019, 23.9% of the patients diagnosed with glomerulonephritis, a condition known for affecting the filtration of blood by the kidney, are said to have opted for a kidney transplant in the UK (Stewart, 2021). The patient may need a healthy kidney from a donor to aid in performing the functions of the kidney in the body. This kind of treatment requires donors to come from the family cycle.

Tolvaptan is another medication recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. The use of Tolvaptan in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease can slow down the growth of cysts hence reducing the deterioration of renal function (Roediger et al., 2022). The medication is suitable for adults with chronic kidney disease and who have shown evidence of progressive kidney disease. The dosage for these drugs is twice a day, and patients are required tone much keener on the time to take the medication. The side effects of Tolvaptan medication include thirst, frequent excretion and passing more urine all day long, and liver damage resulting from chemical reactions. Another alternative mechanism for treatment includes the induction of apoptosis. According to Health & Medicine Week (2020), induction of and increased rates of apoptosis help reduce the growth of cysts in the kidney. According to PR Newswire (2021), the combination of beta-hydroxybutyrate and citrate is slowing down the growth of polycystic kidney disease cysts.

Diet for patients with polycystic kidney disease

A polycystic kidney disease diet aims to control symptoms, such as high blood pressure, and reduce the risk of complications, such as kidney stones. The patient may need to consume enough protein, limit the uptake of salt and fluids, eat healthy fats, and reduce the intake of processed and sugary foods. Further, more specific diet recommendations for people with polycystic kidney disease have been given. These include; eating high-quality protein sources such as fish, poultry, eggs, and legumes, limiting sodium intake to less than 2,000 mg per day, increasing dietary fiber intake from sources such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, drinking plenty of water and other fluids, such as herbal teas or diluted fruit juices. In addition, the patient should consider limiting saturated and trans fats and choosing healthy unsaturated fats such as olive oil and avocados.


Polycystic kidney disease has no cure. The most affected group of patients are those with infantile PDK who die before attaining the age of two years. The disease is fatal, especially when untreated for adults, because it causes kidney failure. The main remedy is dialysis or kidney transplant, which is expensive for most people to afford. Failure to undergo these two remedies leads to death after some time.


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First Medical Food for the Dietary Management of Polycystic Kidney Disease Launched: Scientific breakthroughs for kidney disease led to the launch of the first-ever medical food for the daily dietary management of Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). (2021, December 06). PR Newswire


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