Multicystic Dysplastic Kidney

Also known as: MCDK, multicystic renal dysplasia, multicystic kidney.

What is multicystic dysplastic kidney?

Multicystic dysplastic kidney is a common birth defect (approximately 1 in every 4300 live births) in which a baby’s normal kidney tissue (usually only on one side) is replaced by many cysts.

If only one kidney is affected the other one can function normally. If both kidneys are affected the baby cannot survive because the kidneys not only make the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby that allows him/her to move, but also contributes to fetal lung growth and development.

What causes multicystic dysplastic kidney?

Multicystic dysplastic kidney is due to a genetic mutation. It sometimes runs in families, but in most cases it occurs spontaneously.

What are the symptoms of multicystic dysplastic kidney?

One-sided Multicystic dysplastic kidney does not cause any symptoms. Typically the condition is found during a prenatal ultrasound examination and the other functioning kidney handles all kidney function.

What are multicystic dysplastic kidney care options?

No treatment is needed for multicystic dysplastic kidney, even though ongoing monitoring by abdominal ultrasound is advised to monitor the progression of the cystic kidney and to identify the development of high blood pressure.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: August 03, 2022 01:10 PM


The Division of Nephrology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital treats kidney disorders and provides comprehensive evaluation of renal functions, including kidney biopsies.

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