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PKD Glossary




More than normal amounts of a protein called albumin in the urine. Albuminuria may be a sign of kidney disease.


An organ or tissue transplant between two humans.


The condition of having too few red blood cells. Healthy red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. If the blood is low on red blood cells, the body does not get enough oxygen. People with anemia may be tired and pale and may feel their heartbeat change. Anemia is common in people with chronic renal failure or those on dialysis. (See also erythropoietin.)


A condition in which the person stops making urine.

Arteriovenous Fistula:

Surgical connection of an artery directly to a vein, usually in the forearm, created in patients who will need hemodialysis (see dialysis). The AV fistula causes the vein to grow thicker, allowing the repeated needle insertions required for hemodialysis.


Procedures that utilize contrast dye injected into blood vessels in order to clearly visualize them. When it is suspected that there is an aneurysm on a blood vessel in the brain, an arteriogram is usually done.

Autosomal Dominant:

Means that if one parent has the disease, there is a 50-percent chance that the disease will pass to a child. At least one parent must have the disease for a child to inherit it. Either the mother or father can pass it along, but new mutations may account for one-fourth of new cases. In some rare cases, the cause of autosomal dominant PKD occurs spontaneously in the child soon after conception--in these cases the parents are not the source of this disease.

Autosomal Recessive PKD:

Is caused by a particular genetic flaw that is different from the genetic flaw that causes autosomal dominant PKD. Parents who do not have the disease can have a child with the disease if both parents carry the abnormal gene and both pass the gene to their baby. The chance of this happening (when both parents carry the abnormal gene) is one in four. If only one parent carries the abnormal gene, the baby cannot get the disease.



The balloon-shaped organ inside the pelvis that holds urine.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN):

A waste product in the blood that comes from the breakdown of food protein. The kidneys filter blood to remove urea. As kidney function decreases, the BUN level increases.



A mineral that the body needs for strong bones and teeth. Calcium may form stones in the kidney.


Lasting a long time. Chronic diseases develop slowly. Chronic renal failure may develop over many years and lead to end-stage renal disease.

Chronic Renal Failure:

Slow and progressive loss of kidney function over several years, often resulting in end-stage renal disease. People with end-stage renal disease need dialysis or transplantation to replace the work of the kidneys.


A waste product from meat protein in the diet and from the muscles of the body. Creatinine is removed from blood by the kidneys; as kidney disease progresses, the level of creatinine in the blood increases.

Creatinine Clearance:

A test that measures how efficiently the kidneys remove creatinine and other wastes from the blood. Low creatinine clearance indicates impaired kidney function.


An abnormal sac containing gas, fluid, or a semisolid material. Cysts may form in kidneys or in other parts of the body.



A cleansing liquid used in the two major forms of dialysis--hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.


The process of cleaning wastes from the blood artificially. This job is normally done by the kidneys. If the kidneys fail, the blood must be cleaned artificially with special equipment. The two major forms of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

  • hemodialysis :
    The use of a machine to clean wastes from the blood after the kidneys have failed. The blood travels through tubes to a dialyzer, which removes wastes and extra fluid. The cleaned blood then flows through another set of tubes back into the body.
  • peritoneal dialysis:
    Cleaning the blood by using the lining of the belly (abdomen) as a filter. A cleansing solution, called dialysate, is drained from a bag into the belly. Fluids and wastes flow through the lining of the belly and remain "trapped" in the dialysate. The dialysate is then drained from the belly, removing the extra fluids and wastes from the body. There are three types of peritoneal dialysis:
    • continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD): The most common type of peritoneal dialysis. It needs no machine. With CAPD, the blood is always being cleaned. The dialysate passes from a plastic bag through the catheter and into the abdomen. The dialysate stays in the abdomen with the catheter sealed. After several hours, the person using CAPD drains the solution back into a disposable bag. Then the person refills the abdomen with fresh solution through the same catheter, to begin the cleaning process again.
    • continuous cyclic peritoneal dialysis (CCPD): A form of peritoneal dialysis that uses a machine. This machine automatically fills and drains the dialysate from the abdomen. A typical CCPD schedule involves three to five exchanges during the night while the person sleeps. During the day, the person using CCPD performs one exchange with a dwell time that lasts the entire day.
    • nocturnal intermittent peritoneal dialysis (NIPD): A machine-aided form of peritoneal dialysis. NIPD differs from CCPD in that six or more exchanges take place during the night, and the NIPD patient does not perform an exchange during the day.


A part of the hemodialysis machine. (See hemodialysis under dialysis.) The dialyzer has two sections separated by a membrane. One section holds dialysate. The other holds the patient's blood.

Dwell time:

In peritoneal dialysis, the amount of time a bag of dialysate remains in the patient's abdominal cavity during an exchange.


More information can be found on PKD at the PKD Foundation site

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