Horseshoe kidney

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Horseshoe kidney

Question

I just found out that I have a horseshoe kidney. Should I be concerned?

Meridith
Wisconsin

Answer

Horseshoe kidney is a common abnormality of the urinary system, affecting about one in every 400 to 800 newborns. In early fetal development, the kidneys start out as a single ridge of tissue that later separates and becomes two kidneys. But in some fetuses, incomplete separation results in a single, U-shaped kidney (horseshoe kidney).

Although present at birth (congenital), horseshoe kidney usually causes no signs or symptoms and often goes undetected for years. It may be found incidentally on an X-ray or ultrasound done for some other reason.

Horseshoe kidney usually requires no treatment unless it causes problems. Occasionally, it can impair the flow of urine from the kidneys to the bladder, which can lead to kidney stones or infection or damage to the kidney. If needed, treatment may include surgery to improve the flow of urine.

Be sure to tell any doctor you consult with that you have a horseshoe kidney, especially if you ever need abdominal or pelvic surgery.

Horseshoe kidney

Illustration of Horseshoe kidney

Horseshoe kidney is a kidney disorder that's present at birth (congenital). Sometimes during the early fetal development, the kidney tissue doesn't fully separate into two kidneys. The result is one U-shaped kidney.

Last Updated: 11/22/2005
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