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Ectopic Kidney - Complications Associated With It!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. D.K. Agarwal 91% (211 ratings)
MBBS, MD - General Medicine, DM - Nephrology, DNB (Nephrology)
Nephrologist, Delhi  •  36 years experience
Ectopic Kidney - Complications Associated With It!

While most of the health issues that arise in our body show prominent symptoms, some do not, and the patients discover the problem accidentally. One such condition is Ectopic kidney which is a congenital abnormality wherein the organ is located out of normal place. Generally, the kidneys start forming within the pelvis and then move into their position behind the rib cage. In case of the ectopic kidney, one of the two kidneys does not move to the right place but may remain in the pelvis. Or it may move upward, but fails to reach its desired position. What's more, a kidney may cross over so that both the kidneys are located on the same side of the body. 

How is the condition diagnosed? 
An ectopic kidney may be able to function normally without causing any symptoms, and the diagnosis happens by chance. Sometimes, the health care provider may discover ectopic kidney after feeling a lump in the unusual position in the abdomen or may notice it due to urinary problems and pain in the abdomen. 

What are the complications? 
The most common complications of an ectopic kidney include problems in the drainage of urine from the kidney. At times, the urine may flow backward from the bladder to the kidney, an issue which is medically termed as vesicoureteral reflux or VUR. This, in turn, can lead to a host of health issues such as: 

  1. Infection: Through urine, the human body can wash out bacteria and inhibits their growth in the kidneys as well as the urinary tract. When the kidney is out of its normal position, the urine gets trapped in the kidney itself or the ureter. The remaining urine allows the bacteria to grow and spread. Hence, an affected individual may suffer from back pain, abdominal pain, fever and chills and foul-smelling urine. 
  2. Formation of stones: Calcium and oxalate stones may form in the kidney due to the ectopic kidney. This happens when the urine remains in the urinary tract for a long span of time. It could lead to extreme pain on the sides of the body, blood in the urine, fever or chills, vomiting, burning sensation while urinating. 
  3. Trauma: When the ectopic kidney is present in the pelvis, it could become susceptible to injury from blunt trauma. Such people are required to wear protective gear while performing body contact sports. 

What are the treatment options for an ectopic kidney? 

If tests show evidence of an obstruction, then surgery may be required for correcting the causes of obstruction for allowing better drainage of urine. Also, reflux can be fixed with the help of operation for altering the ureter. When there is extensive damage to the kidneys, then surgery may be required for complete removal of the kidney. So, depending on the condition of the patient, the necessary treatment process would be adopted by the nephrologist.

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