What Is Horseshoe Kidney?

Horseshoe kidney is a condition in which the kidneys fuse (bind) together at the bottom, forming a “U” shape or horseshoe shape. Children who have horseshoe kidney have one “fused” kidney instead of 2 separate kidneys.

Horseshoe kidney is a congenital condition, which means it happens before birth while the baby is still developing inside the mother’s womb.

How Common Is Horseshoe Kidney?

Horseshoe kidney is a common congenital condition. It happens in one out of every 500 babies.

What Causes Horseshoe Kidney?

We are not sure what causes horseshoe kidney. But we do know that it is no one’s fault.

What Are The Symptoms Of Horseshoe Kidney?

Many children who have horseshoe kidney do not have any symptoms. For children who do have symptoms, the most common ones include:

  • Belly pain
  • Nausea (upset stomach)
  • Urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • Kidney stones. Kidney stones are crystals that form in the kidneys. They can be big or small. Kidney stones can cause pain while urinating or infections.

For some children, horseshoe kidney can affect other parts of the body, like the heart, stomach, intestines, nerves or urinary system (how you go to the bathroom).
diagram of horseshoe kidney

How Do We Treat Horseshoe Kidney?

How we treat horseshoe kidney depends on whether your child has symptoms. If he does not have symptoms, your child usually does not need treatment. However, it is a good idea to have regular check- ups with your child’s doctor to monitor the kidney.

If your child has symptoms or conditions caused by horseshoe kidney, we will talk with you about the best treatment. There is no cure for horseshoe kidney, but the symptoms can be treated.

Your child’s doctor might refer you to a nephrologist (kidney doctor) or urologist (doctor who treats problems with the urinary tract, or where you go to the bathroom). He might also refer you to other specialists (doctors who treat specific problems) who care for problems related to your child’s symptoms.

What Are Common Concerns With Horseshoe Kidney?

  • Hydronephrosis. This is when the kidneys become larger because of extra fluid that builds up inside the kidneys.
  • Wilms’ tumor. This is a type of cancer that happens during early childhood.
  • Kidney disease or kidney cancer.
  • Hydrocephaly. Hydrocephaly is when there is extra

fluid around the brain or spinal cord.

  • Spina bifida. Spina bifida is when the spinal cord does not form properly before birth.
  • Different conditions that affect the heart, stomach, intestines or skeleton.

What Are the Tests for Horseshoe Kidney?

There are many tests for horseshoe kidney. The type of test your child will have depends on his symptoms. Your child’s doctor can help you decide which test is best.

The different types of tests are:

  • Renal (kidney) ultrasound. This is an imaging test that uses soundwaves to make pictures of your child’s kidneys.
  • Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG). A VCUG is an imaging test that tells doctors how well your child’s kidneys and bladder are working.
  • Intravenous pyelogram. This is an imaging test that makes pictures of your child’s urinary tract. The test uses a safe, colored dye that is injected into your child’s vein. The dye flows through the urinary tract and shows doctors how well the urinary tract is working.
  • Blood tests. A blood test can tell doctors how well your child’s kidneys are working.
  • Urine culture. A urine culture (urine test) tells doctors how well the kidneys, ureters and bladder are working.