An ectopic kidney, also known as an renal ectopia, is a congenital condition where the kidney is not located in its normal position but is located in an abnormal position on the body. This condition is uncommon, occurring in only about 1 in 1000 births. Renal function is usually normal but due to its location and proximity to other organs it may have difficulty developing drainage. While most people with ectopic kidneys have no problems, others may develop kidney failure, urinary stones, urinary tract infections, or other potentially serious complications.

What are the various symptoms of an ectopic kidney?

Ectopic kidneys usually cause no symptoms or health problems. Most people have no symptoms of an ectopic kidney, especially if the kidneys are working properly. In some cases, symptoms of an ectopic kidney may include:

  • Urinary problems
  • Stomachache
  • Tumor in the abdomen
  • fever
  • hematuria or blood in the urine
  • High Blood Pressure

What are the different causes of an ectopic kidney?

An ectopic kidney is a birth defect that occurs during fetal development. Researchers aren’t sure what causes most birth defects, including ectopic kidneys.

Ectopic kidney can be caused by

  • underdeveloped kidney buds
  • a problem in the kidney tissue directs the growing kidney to where it moves
  • genetic defects that cause inherited diseases
  • illness, infection or drug or chemical reaction during fetal development

Other causes may include:

  • Defects in kidney tissue
  • Intrauterine exposure to certain drugs or chemicals

What are the common complications found in people with Ectopic kidney?

Ectopic kidneys not working properly and not draining properly can lead to complications that need to be treated. Ectopic kidneys can cause a condition called vesicoureteral reflux, or VUR, where urine backs up from the bladder into the kidney. Other complications may include:

  • Kidney stones
  • Urinary tract infections(UTI)
  • Kidney damage
  • obstruction in bladder

How is a person with an ectopic kidney diagnosed?

Once an ectopic kidney is found, fetal ultrasonography (an imaging test that uses sound waves to make a picture of how the baby is developing in the womb) or looking for a urinary tract infection discovered during a medical examination for Find the cause of your stomachache. Ectopic kidneys are often misdiagnosed when a patient undergoes surgery or an x-ray of her for an unrelated condition. Patients experiencing similar symptoms should have their doctor perform a complete physical examination. This may also include checking for:

  • imaging test

Imaging is done at an outpatient center or hospital by a specially trained technician, and the images are reviewed by a radiologist.

Healthcare professionals use the following imaging tests to diagnose and treat an ectopic kidney:

  • Ultrasound NIH’s offsite link uses sound waves to probe structures inside the body. The image can show the location of the kidneys.
  • Voiding cystourethrography uses x-rays NIH External Link to show how urine flows through the bladder and urethra.
  • Radionuclide scans NIH offsite links, also called nuclear scans, can show the location and size of fallopian tube kidneys and urinary system blockages.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) NIH’s offsite link uses magnetic fields and radio waves to take pictures of organs and structures inside the body without the use of radiation. MRI can show the location, size, shape, and function of the kidneys. An ultrasound will show the location of the kidneys.
  • clinical examination

A health care professional may do urine and blood tests to check kidney function.

Is it possible for a person to have two ectopic kidneys?

A person rarely has two ectopic kidneys.

In the womb, the fetal kidney first develops as a small sprout in the lower abdomen within the pelvis. During the first eight weeks of growth, fetal kidneys slowly move from the pelvis to their normal position on the back near the ribcage. When an ectopic kidney develops during growth, the kidney

  • Stays in the pelvis near the bladder
  • Stopping the upward movement too early and staying in the lower abdomen
  • Causes too much abdominal movements 
  • It traverses the middle of the body and often grows into or joins the other kidney. Both kidneys are on the same side of the body.

What are the treatments offered for a person dignosed with an Ectopic Kidney?

Treatment of an ectopic kidney depends on the severity of symptoms and complications. In some cases, surgical repositioning of the kidney may be necessary to improve the urine flow. If tests show a possible blockage or  any other complication in the urinary tract, it is possible that your doctor may suggest further follow-up or surgery to correct the abnormality.

It is possible for people with only one functioning kidney to live a healthy life and do not require a replacement kidney. 

Does an ectopic kidney have another name?

Ectopic kidneys may remain in the pelvis near the bladder and is called pelvic kidneys. Ectopic kidneys may cross and fuse with other kidneys which can be referred to as cross-renal ectopic.

 How common is an ectopic kidney?

Researchers have not exactly figured out how many people have an ectopic kidney because most people with an ectopic kidney does not have or show any visible symptoms. However, there are some studies estimate that about 1 in 1,000 people  have an ectopic kidney.

What other health problems can an ectopic kidney cause?

Ectopic kidneys usually do not cause health problems or complications and can function normally. Most people are born with two kidneys. Therefore, if a Ectopic kidney is not functioning at all, it is possible that the other kidney is able to do the work that both kidneys were supposed to be doing. It may need to be extracted. It is okay to live with one kidney, also called an isolated kidney, as long as the other kidney is functioning normally.

People with ectopic kidneys are more likely to have vesicoureteral reflux (VUR). VUR is a condition in which urine refluxes from the bladder into one or both ureters and sometimes into the kidneys. In some people, an ectopic kidney can prevent proper drainage of urine from the body or be associated with VUR.

Abnormal placement of the ectopic kidneys and potential problems that slow or block urine flow may be associated with other problems, including:

  • Urinary tract infection- In a slow or blocked urinary tract (VUR), bacteria in the urine are not washed out of the urinary tract as they normally would and can lead to urinary tract infections.
  • Kidney stone- Kidney stones, also called urolithiasis, form from minerals normally found in urine, such as calcium and oxalate. Slower than normal urine flow increases the chances of these minerals accumulating and forming kidney stones.
  • Trauma- Ectopic kidneys in the lower abdomen or pelvis, or fused tubal kidneys, may be at higher risk of damage from certain types of injury or trauma. If you want to play contact sports or participate in other activities that can cause kidney damage, talk to your health care professional.

If you have any of these health conditions, talk to your doctor about treatment options. In some cases, the ectopic kidneys may prevent urine from draining properly from the body. 

Can ectopic kidneys be prevented?

No, ectopic kidneys cannot be prevented . Like many other birth defects, medical professionals don’t know what causes ectopic kidneys or how to prevent them.

Where is renal ectopy most commonly seen?

Ectopic kidneys are most commonly located in the pelvis. Blood is supplied via adjacent vessels, usually directly from the iliac artery or aorta. Disc kidneys refer to fused, isolated pelvic kidneys that drain via a common ureter.

Can an ectopic kidney move?

In an ectopic kidney, one of the kidneys does not move to its proper location. It may be left in the tank. It can move up, but it will stop before it reaches its normal position. Allows you to move higher than normal position. 

Can an ectopic kidney cause hypertension?

Multiple collateral and polar arteries may develop if these vessels are not degenerated in the ectopic caudal kidney. Hypertension is more common when there are multiple renal arteries

What are the side effects after an ectopic kidney surgery?

After treatment, you may feel mild abdominal pain, but it is not severe. Other rare side effects (affecting up to 15% of women) include nausea, vomiting, indigestion, mouth sores, sensitivity to light, and fatigue.

Can Ectopic kidney cause stomach pain?

Most people find out they have an ectopic kidney by accident while being tested for other illnesses or health problems. In some cases, an ectopic kidney can cause pain in the abdomen (stomach). It can also cause urinary problems.