Understanding progression

Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) continues to get worse over time

You might notice signs but not know they’re from ADPKD. As your cysts grow, your kidneys can't always keep up with the body’s demands. Kidney damage builds up. Even if kidney function looks normal. Eventually, the damage is too much, and the kidneys slowly stop working.

People with fast-progressing ADPKD reach ESRD at a younger age

With fast-progressing ADPKD, kidney function gets worse and cysts grow more quickly, leading to earlier kidney failure. Larger kidneys can lead to earlier high blood pressure, more pain, earlier kidney damage, and early kidney failure.

Kidney size is one sign of risk for fast-progressing ADPKD

Doctors will measure your kidney volume based on your height. Then, they will see if they are big for your age.

For instance, 2 people might have the same size kidneys. But in a shorter person they would be a greater risk. Or, if 2 people of the same height have the same size kidneys, the younger person may be at risk for faster progressing ADPKD.

Each of the patients below has a combined kidney volume of 800 mL. Each of their kidneys is about 400 mL, which is slightly more than 13 fluid oz.

Layer 1 May not be at risk for fast-progressing ADPKD Height: 5’9” PATIENT 3 65 years old May not be at risk for fast-progressing ADPKD Height: 6’5” PATIENT 1 35 years old May be at risk for fast-progressing ADPKD Height: 5’9” PATIENT 2 35 years old
Layer 1 Height: 5’9” PATIENT 3 65 years old Height: 5’9” Height: 6’5” PATIENT 2 35 years old May be at risk for fast-progressing ADPKD PATIENT 1 35 years old May not be at risk for fast-progressing ADPKD May not be at risk for fast-progressing ADPKD

What are some other signs?

  • High blood pressure before age 35
  • Blood in the urine before age 35
  • A family history of kidney failure before age 58
  • A fast drop in GFR
  • Being male
  • Certain types of inherited genetic mutations

Work with a doctor to learn more about how your kidneys look and how fast your disease is progressing

This could include your doctor using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to get a more detailed picture of your kidneys.