What Having A Pelvic Kidney Might Mean

A pelvic kidney is an ectopic kidney. An ectopic kidney is a kidney that is misplaced, or in other words is located somewhere other than where it should normally be. Normally, our kidneys lie near the middle of the back and just below the rib cage, with one kidney on our left side and one on our right side. The function of the kidneys is to filter the blood. Blood flows into the kidneys from the renal arteries and out again through the renal veins. The waste material accumulated, which is urine, then flows out of the kidneys through the ureters and into the bladder. Kidneys also help to regulate the amount of fluid retained within the body.

Location Isn't Always Critical

If a kidney is located somewhere other at the back and under the rib cage, it would be an ectopic kidney, and would seemingly be a significant cause for concern. As it turns out, the location of a kidney isn't necessarily all that critical, as long as the kidney can perform its function. In other words, as long as a kidney is correctly “hooked up” to the renal artery and vein, and to the ureter, it should function quite well. Naturally if the kidney is in some ways abnormal, to the point it doesn't function properly, there might be a problem, but that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with its location.

The location of each kidney is established before birth during the formation of the fetus. In most of us, these fist-sized, bean-shaped organs lie where they should lie when we are born. Sometimes however, that isn't the case. Usually it's only one of the kidneys that ends up out of position, but it’s possible for both of them to. A kidney may be located too high, too low, or in some cases both kidneys may end up on the same side of the spinal column. There are also instances where two kidneys that end up lying close together become fused, and perform as a single kidney. A fused kidney can perform just as well as two kidneys can in many instances. In fact, even if a kidney has abnormalities, as long as 10% or 20% of it can function correctly, it can usually do the job of a whole kidney, and it may never be a cause for concern.

Kidneys Originate In The Pelvis

In the case where a kidney ends up lower than it should, and in fact ends up in the pelvic region, it is called a pelvic kidney. Actually, during the development of the fetus, both kidneys are formed in the pelvic region, but then ascend upwards towards the bottom of the rib cage. A pelvic kidney is one that did not do that.

Such a misplaced kidney not only can function normally, but in most instances usually does. If the kidney does not function normally however it may eventually need to be removed, although there may not be any symptoms to indicate the kidney is not functioning as it should be. Since its position is not normal, and in fact is far from being normal, there are can be instances where the path taken by the ureter is a tortured one, and one that can easily be blocked or the ureter can become more susceptible to disease. A kidney located in the pelvic areas can in some cases interfere with pregnancy. A kidney in this area is also more susceptible to injury from blunt trauma, as it is less protected than it would be if it were located where a kidney normally should be. In rare instances, the venal or arterial connections may be abnormal, but such cases would usually result in the death of the organ, and such an abnormality would tend to become apparent soon after childbirth. The most common disease associated with a pelvic kidney is a urinary tract infection. Less common are diseases affecting the cardiovascular or nervous systems.

When the kidney is functioning improperly, and the malfunction cannot be corrected, it will usually need to be surgically removed. An attempt to relocate the kidney would tend to require a very complex procedure, one whose outcome would most likely be unsatisfactory. Removal of a pelvic kidney should not produce any long term ill-effects as long as the other kidney is healthy. We can get along perfectly fine with only one kidney.

More Common Than We Think

A pelvic kidney is not the rarity one might expect. It's estimated that approximately 1 in every 2,500 people have such a kidney, and approximately 1 in 1,000 have an ectopic kidney. It's only an estimate, because quite a number of those people may live a long and normal life and never be aware of the fact that one of their kidneys is not located where it is supposed to be. You may be one of those people. If so, you've had the condition since before you were born, and it if hasn't created a problem yet the chances are good that it never will.

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