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Pediatric – Renal Fusion – Horseshoe Kidney

Normally, we are born with two kidneys. These are located in the lower back, inside the abdominal region on each side. The kidneys are protected by the rib cage from outside. At times, the kidneys face problems when in the developmental stage and may become fused (joined) together.


What happens under normal conditions?

The kidney is mainly responsible for filtering out toxins and other harmful substances from the blood stream which allows the other organs to function safely. Apart from this, the kidney is also responsible for ensuring ideal chemical balance in the body, regulating blood pressure and development of red blood cells in the bone marrow. Kidneys begin to develop in the fetus initially in the lower abdomen, and steadily grow up to their proper position gradually.


What is horseshoe kidney?

Horseshoe kidney is a nephrological developmental disorder which affects around 1 child in every 500 children. This problem occurs when the kidney is in its developmental stage inside the fetus and is shifting to its normal position. In this case, the kidneys tend to gradually fuse together with their lower portion, thus forming a single ‘U’ shaped kidney (similar to a horseshoe). This condition is believed to affect mostly male children.


What are the symptoms of a horseshoe kidney?

Horseshow kidneys show comparatively more symptoms than ectopic fused kidneys. Around 70% of the patients (adults and children) with a horseshoe kidney show noticeable symptoms. The symptoms may be in the form of abdominal pain, kidney stones, nausea and UTI (urinary tract infection) as well. The risk of cancerous tumors is also significantly increased with horseshoe kidneys as compared to normal kidneys, which is often noted due to blood in the urine, abnormal mass in the abdomen and pain in the flanks.


How is horseshoe kidney treated?

Treatment is usually not required when the child with horseshoe kidney does not exhibit any symptoms. In case complications are noticed, supportive treatment is effective in such situations. This involves treating the individual symptoms as there is no cure for the condition. Surgical correction may be advised in case obstruction or vesicoureteral reflux is noticed.


What can be expected after treatment for horseshoe kidney?

In case the patient complains of pain due to horseshoe kidney, then surgical correction might not help relieve the pain.

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