Some Interesting Facts About Duplex Kidneys

A condition known as duplex kidneys is said to exist when either or both of the kidneys is replicated, either in part, or entirely. A duplex kidney may not necessarily consist of two identical kidneys on one side of the body, but could instead consist of an entire kidney together with a partially developed kidney. A duplex kidney could consist of two kidneys (on the same side of the body) working in tandem as one, or two kidneys working more or less independently of one another.

Not All That Uncommon

Duplex kidneys are not as rare as one might think, nor are they necessarily as dangerous a condition as one might have reason to believe. Naturally, if a kidney forms abnormally, to the point where it is unable to fully perform its intended function, the situation could become quite serious. Yet if one is born with a duplex set of kidneys, with each kidney performing as a kidney should, there is usually little cause for alarm, nor for that matter any need for treatment.

Whether duplex kidneys can perform the same function as a single kidney, but twice as well, is a good question. In truth, if the second kidney is performing as well as a single kidney, it would be quite sufficient, though it wouldn't be entirely reasonable to assume that the additional kidney would take on an additional share of the workload. In some instances, each kidney will drain down through the ureter into the bladder through its own tube. In other instances the kidney pair may share a single ureter. It doesn't seem to matter either way. If a problem does occur, it's usually not a problem with the kidneys themselves, but with the way the ureter or ureters are attached to the bladder.

A Potential Problem

A problem that can sometimes be encountered with duplex kidneys is if the flow of urine from the kidneys to the bladder is in some ways abnormal. There may then be a tendency for the urine to back up towards the kidneys, a reflux action. If the urine has somehow become infected in either the ureter or the bladder, the infection could conceivably spread to the kidneys. This condition, called vesicoureteric reflux, often corrects itself over time. In the meantime, the person affected, usually a child, may need to take a low dose antibiotic while the condition corrects itself.

Whether we are talking about two normal kidneys, or the presence of one or two additional kidneys, they are quite remarkable organs, being true workhorses in the body. The kidneys function to remove waste from the blood stream. If this waste, which often contains toxic elements, were to be allowed to accumulate, serious health problems could be the result, as anyone suffering from kidney disease or kidney failure well knows. Blood is delivered to the kidneys by the renal artery, and impurities are then filtered out. The blood is then returned via the renal vein. If one kidney is not performing well, or has been removed, the second kidney is quite capable of taking up the task. Whether a duplicate set of kidneys provides an even greater degree of backup isn't well documented, but it would seem it might be the case if the additional kidney performs normally.

Most Common On Only One Side

In truth, while being born with two kidneys on one side of the body, and a single kidney on the other side, is not uncommon; being born with double kidneys on both sides of the body is really quite rare. A person is much more apt to have a third functioning kidney than have a fourth one as well. As long as the extra, or duplex, kidney develops normally, there are usually no symptoms associated with the condition. The presence of the extra kidney is often detected in an unborn child during an ultrasound examination. If detected early on, the development of the kidneys will usually be monitored, to determine if any action will need to be taken once the baby is born. Testing may be undertaken for a few weeks after birth to ensure that the kidneys are functioning normally. In most cases, no treatment will be needed, but in rare cases surgery may be needed to correct an abnormality. A child born with a duplex kidney condition will usually be monitored by his or her pediatrician for a number of years to check for any symptoms that might suggest the presence of a developing kidney problem. Most adults having this condition lead symptom free lives.  In fact, most are unaware the condition even exists.

Is The Extra Kidney A Gift? - Sometimes a minor abnormality in the development of one of our organs can have far reaching consequences. Duplication of an organ is quite an unusual event, and the consequences when that happens are often quite severe. In the case of the kidneys however, the addition of a “spare” does not seem to present any particular problem as long as the kidneys are functioning normally.


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