Vilas Sawant (name changed) enjoyed a generally healthy life like most other bank employees his age. Last month, the 31-year-old suffered back pain. He consulted a number of doctors in the hope of getting some relief. Understandably, he underwent numerous tests. A sonography revealed cysts in both the kidneys, an ailment that is described in medical terms as polycystic kidney disease (PKD or PCKD).
PKD is a common life-threatening genetic disease that is usually detected in the advanced stage.
It is characterised by multiple cysts typically in both kidneys.
“We call it a silent disease as it is not detected until it has advanced. People with a history of kidney ailments in the family should go for a regular check-up, so early intervention through medication can save the kidney,” said Dr Jatin Kothari, nephrologist at PD Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai.
Sawant is an executive with a multinational bank and lives in Borivli, Mumbai. A general physician referred him to an orthopaedic specialist. He was advised some blood tests.
But it was the kidney function test that reported a high creatinine level of 4.5 milligrams per decilitre. (The normal should be below 1.) This is when he was checked by a nephrologist and the cysts were detected.
“I do not understand this. I was completely normal till last month. The doctors say that I have carried this disease since my birth. They have asked me to control my diet and have put me on medication,” said Sawant.
Delay in detection can lead to the person losing the kidney. “Most of those who suffer from PKD begin to exhibit side-effects after the age of 30. While we try to help them with medication, they require dialysis, eventually even transplant,” Kothari explained. Hinduja hospital has treated about 60 cases annually over the past few years.
Dr Vivekanand Jha, secretary of the Indian Society of Nephrology, said, “This is a common problem and people should be aware about this condition. Those with a family history of kidney problems should go for a regular check-up as this ailment is passed on from generation to generation. If detected in time, the problem can be controlled with medication.” He said it is estimated that 1% of the total kidney transplants in the country were on account of PKD.
Know about PKD
Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder.
It is characterised by multiple cysts and results in enlargement of the kidneys.
The disease can cause damage to other organs, like the liver and pancreas, and in rare cases the heart and brain.