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Ectopic Kidneys

Normally, a person is born with a pair of kidneys. These are located on each side in the lower back of the abdominal cavity but are protected by the rib cage. At times, certain disorders and diseases can cause abnormalities in the development of kidneys, such as in people with ectopic kidneys.

This information is aimed at making it easier to understand the details of ectopic kidneys and make it convenient to consult with a pediatric urologist.


What do kidneys do?

Kidneys are included in the most vital organs in the body. These are responsible for filtering the toxins and waste from the blood and creating urine. These are also helpful in maintaining the normal level of essential chemicals in the body so that other bodily functions can work effectively.

Kidneys are also helpful in maintaining the proper blood pressure and ensuring sufficient production of blood cells in the bone marrow. The kidneys form in the fetal stage in the lower abdomen initially and gradually move into their normal position as the baby grows.


What is ectopic kidney?

Ectopic kidney, also known as ‘renal ectopia’, is the abnormal placement of the kidney. In this, the kidney is not in its normal position. This condition affects around 1 in every 1,000 child. However, only 10% of these conditions get diagnosed.

Renal ectopia is often detected when an x-ray test or a surgery is done for an unrelated disorder. Ectopic kidneys can stop their ascent at any point along the path to the upper abdomen.

There are two types of renal ectopia:

  • Simple renal ectopia (simple ectopic kidney) – In this condition the kidney is located on the correct side but is placed lower than normal in the abdomen.

  • Crossed renal ectopia (cross ectopic kidney) – In this condition, one of the kidney shifts to the other side, which places both kidneys on a single side. These kidneys may or may not be fused (joined) together.

Ectopic kidney is generally a complication from a congenital (birth) disorder affecting another organ system.


What are the symptoms of an ectopic kidney?

The function of an ectopic kidney does not get affected overall however the abnormal positioning of the kidney causes problems with draining it effectively. Around 50% of ectopic kidneys are also marginally blocked.

With time, these obstructions can lead to severe complications. These include UTI, VUR, renal infections, etc.

The most commonly seen symptoms of ectopic kidneys are similar to those seen in UTI, such as abdominal pain, abdominal lump, etc.


How is an ectopic kidney treated?

An ectopic kidney will normally require treatment in case it causes VUR or obstruction in the kidney. In case the damage to the kidney is mild to moderate the obstruction can be removed and the VUR corrected using surgical methods.

In case the kidney shows severe scarring and its functioning is also affected, the doctor may advise removing it completely.


What can I expect after treatment for ectopic kidney?

Normal lifestyle is possible for the patient after a treatment for severe ectopic kidney condition if the remaining kidney is healthy and functioning effectively.

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