Background: Renal cysts arising from collecting ducts, congenital hepatic fibrosis, and recessive inheritance characterize autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD). The disorder usually manifests in infancy, with a high mortality rate in the first year of life. For the patients who survive the neonatal period, the probability of being alive at 15 years of age ranges from 50 to 80%, with 56--67% of them not requiring renal replacement therapy at that stage. Some develop portal hypertension. Long-term outcome of adults escaping renal insufficiency above age 18 is largely unknown.
Method: In consecutive patients with ARPKD and autonomous renal function at age 18, clinical course of kidney and liver disease in adulthood and status at last follow-up were evaluated. Progression of renal insufficiency was assessed by the rate of decline of creatinine clearance, according to Schwartz's formula before age 18 and Cockcroft and Gault formula thereafter. Severity of liver involvement was estimated by imaging techniques, liver function tests, and endoscopy.
Results: Sixteen patients from 15 families were included. ARPKD was diagnosed between 1 day and 13 years of age. From diagnosis, mean follow-up period lasted 24+/-9 years. Before age 18, nine patients (56%) were hypertensive, nine (56%) had renal failure, and four (25%) had portal hypertension. Beyond age 18, no additional patient became hypertensive, and another five developed progressive renal insufficiency; altogether, the mean yearly decline of creatinine clearance was 2.9+/-1.6 ml/min. Portal hypertension was recognized in two additional patients. Four patients experienced gastro-oesophageal bleeding, while recurrent cholangitis or cholangiocarcinoma developed in one case each. At the end of follow-up, 15/16 patients (94%) were alive at a mean age of 27 (18--55) years. Two patients had a normal renal function, 11 had chronic renal insufficiency, one was on regular dialysis, and two had functioning kidney grafts. Four patients had required a porto-systemic shunt.
Conclusions: A subset of ARPKD patients with autonomous renal function at age 18 experiences slowly progressive renal insufficiency. With prolonged renal survival, complications related to portal hypertension are not rare, requiring careful surveillance and appropriate management.