Horseshoe kidney occurs in about one in 500 children. It occurs during fetal development as the kidneys move into their normal position in the flank area (area around the side, just above the waist). With horseshoe kidney, however, as the kidneys of the fetus rise from the pelvic area, they fuse together at the lower end or base. By fusing, they form a "U" shape, which gives it the name "horseshoe."
One-third of individuals with horseshoe kidney will have at least one other anomaly or complication involving the cardiovascular system, the central nervous system, or the genitourinary system, such as the following:
Horseshoe kidney can occur alone or in combination with other disorders.
About one-third of children will have no symptoms. One-third of individuals with horseshoe kidney will have another anomaly or other complication involving the cardiovascular, nervous, or genitourinary system. The symptoms of horseshoe kidney may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.
In a child without symptoms, diagnosis or treatment may not be necessary. If your child is having any of the mentioned complications, your child's doctor may order one or more of the following diagnostic tests:
In a child without symptoms, treatment may not be necessary. If your child has complications, he or she may require supportive treatment, which means his or her symptoms will be treated, but there is no cure for the condition.
Specific treatment for horseshoe kidney will be determined by your child's doctor based on:
Your child's age, overall health, and medical history
The extent of the disorder
Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
Expectations for the course of the disorder
Your opinion or preference
Your child may be referred to an urologist (a doctor who specializes in disorders and care of the urinary tract and the male genital tract) and/or a nephrologist (a doctor who specializes in disorders or diseases of the kidney) for evaluation.
At Children’s National in Washington, DC, our pediatric urologists provide comprehensive care for disorders affecting reproductive and urinary organs.
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