Horseshoe Kidney

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Horseshoe kidney is a condition some children are born with where their kidneys are connected, or fused at the base. This fusion causes them to form a U-shape, like a horseshoe. This condition is also referred to as renal fusion. 

Renal fusion happens to about 1 out of every 500 children. While it can't be cured, there are many supportive treatments for symptoms. Other medical complications can also be treated. 

Causes and Symptoms of Horseshoe Kidney

Horseshoe kidney develops in the womb when the kidneys move into place. No one really knows what causes horseshoe kidney, but the problem happens before a baby is born. 

Genetic Causes

Some genetic disorders that can contribute to Horseshoe Kidney include: 

  • Turner Syndrome
  • Trisomy 18 (Edwards Syndrome) 
  • Down Syndrome
  • Trisomy 13 (Patau Syndrome) 

These conditions often have other obvious symptoms. Horseshoe kidney on its own is not a reason to suspect your child has one of these conditions. 

Symptoms and Complications

Some common symptoms include: 

  • Tummy pain
  • Nausea 
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Kidney stones

Less commonly, children may experience: 

  • Kidney cancer
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Hydronephrosis
  • Wilms tumor
  • Hydrocephaly
  • Vesicoureteral reflux

Horseshoe Kidney Diagnosis and Treatment at UVA Health Children's

At UVA Health Children's, your child’s doctor may perform or recommend:

  • Urinalysis
  • Blood tests
  • Kidney ultrasound
  • Voiding cystourethrogram
  • Intravenous pyelogram

Most children with horseshoe kidney don't need treatment, and there is no cure. Treatment is aimed at controlling symptoms of other complications that may develop.