University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

What is primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD)?

Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is a rare inherited condition that is caused by abnormal cilia. Cilia are microscopic hair-like structures that beat in the airway clearing mucus and debris.

Normal cilia

In those with PCD, cilia are either static or do not beat in a coordinated fashion (dyskinetic) meaning the body is unable to clear secretions. This can affect the lungs, nose, sinuses, ears and fertility.

Static cilia

Most people with PCD have symptoms from birth, which may include wet cough, repeated chest infections, rhinitis (runny nose), recurrent ear infections and glue ear resulting in possible hearing loss. If left untreated PCD can cause permanent lung damage known as bronchiectasis. Approximately half of patients with PCD have dextrocardia (heart on the right) or situs inversus (mirror image arrangement of internal organs); this rarely causes a problem.

Chest physiotherapy, antibiotics to manage infections and management of ear and nose problems are the mainstay treatment for PCD. If treatment plans are maintained there is no reason why most patients cannot lead a full and active normal life.

For more information please visit the PCD family support website.