Published on January 11, 2021 | When you have PKD, your kidneys aren’t the only organs involved. Many people also have issues with their digestive systems. These are just a few links between PKD and common GI issues.
About 80% of people with PKD develop liver cysts, says Seth Goldberg, M.D., associate professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology at Washington University School of Medicine, and it’s more common in women, thanks to estrogen.
“The good news,” says Dr. Goldberg, “is that these cysts do not cause the liver to shut down; they’re more structural, and they have no effect on liver function.” Many people might not even know they have liver cysts, because they can be symptomless and are often only discovered on routine CT scans. Dr. Goldberg says it’s extraordinarily rare to see a patient with liver cysts develop liver failure that requires a liver transplant. Sometimes, however, a patient will experience discomfort.
Common GI Issues with PKD You Should Talk to Your Doctor About
Really full after even small meals.
Known as “early satiety,” this sensation is often experienced because the liver and kidneys are taking up more space in your abdomen, leaving your stomach less room to expand after you eat something.
Pain, tenderness, or swelling.
Large cysts can be filled with up to 590 cubic centimeters of fluid (about the amount of a 20-ounce soda bottle), Dr. Goldberg says. Such cysts can be uncomfortable, cause your liver to become distended, and leave you with tender spots on your abdomen. If so, your doctor may recommend that a particularly large cyst be drained, a procedure in which a radiologist locates the cyst with ultrasound and uses a needle to remove the fluid. “In most cases, the cyst does come back, but it can take years to recur, so this is a fairly durable treatment,” Dr. Goldberg says.
Lower back pain.
An expanded liver could be pressing against your back and causing you lower back pain.