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Polycystic kidneys. Gross specimens of polycystic human kidneys. Polycystic kidney disease is one of the most common causes of chronic kidney failure in adults. It is an inherited condition that may remain dormant with renal function preserved until middle life. The polycystic kidneys are enlarged, their surfaces studded with cysts (swellings) and with cysts of varying size found throughout the cortex and medulla (the internal structures of the kidney). The condition results in renal failure, but such failure is now treatable by dialysis or by transplantation, depending on the severity of the condition.
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