Multicystic dysplastic kidney is a type of disease that causes multiple cysts to grow and take over the healthy tissue of the kidney during fetal development. The development of these cysts prevents the affected kidney from working properly, and in many cases, there is no kidney function at all. Most cases of multicystic dysplastic kidney are diagnosed before birth as a result of the use of prenatal ultrasound. Treatment varies for each individual but can range from careful monitoring to the surgical removal of the affected kidney. Any questions or concerns about multicystic dysplastic kidney or the most appropriate treatment options for an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.
The exact cause for the development of a multicystic dysplastic kidney is not clearly understood, although it is widely believed to be related to a urinary blockage during the fetal stage of development. Studies have shown that there might be a genetic connection in some cases of multicystic dysplastic kidney. In most instances, only one kidney is affected by this disease, although it is possible for both kidneys to be affected. Sometimes, the affected person is born with one diseased kidney, and the other kidney is missing completely.
If both kidneys are affected by this congenital disease, or if one kidney is missing at the time of birth, the condition is fatal, because the child cannot survive without at least one functional kidney. Only one kidney is usually affected, however, and it is almost always the left kidney. Over time, the diseased kidney tends to shrink in size because it is unable to receive proper blood flow. Nerve damage is possible as the cysts continue to overtake the kidney, and this might result in moderate to severe pain. The diseased kidney is monitored and usually is removed when the child is old enough to safely undergo surgery.
In more than half of the cases of multicystic dysplastic kidney, there is a slight problem affecting the remaining kidney, although this typically does not affect overall health or life expectancy. The remaining kidney usually is larger than normal, which is a natural response to the kidney being forced to do the work of two kidneys. To protect the healthy kidney, a diet that is low in sodium and protein is generally advised, and periodic blood tests or ultrasounds might be recommended to monitor the health and function of this kidney.