Question

Kidney Disease and Urology

What causes malrotated kidney?

A Answers (1)

  • AJeffrey M. Saland, MD, Pediatric Nephrology, answered on behalf of The Mount Sinai Health System
    Before birth, the kidneys normally pass through a complex series of developmental steps when they change position and orientation.  Malrotated kidneys occur when these steps do not occur in the usual way so the kidney ends up in an abnormal position, orientation, or both. Malrotated kidneys are generally easily diagnosed by sonogram.

    Often, kidney malrotation is found in an otherwise healthy infant or child, sometimes noticed on a prenatal (before birth) sonogram, and may not have any impact on health.  In adults, kidney malrotation might be noticed when a person has body imaging for a completely different reason.

    In some cases, a malrotated kidney can be associated with some functional problems in the way urine drains to the bladder and with vesicoureteral reflux (when some urine flows backwards through the urinary system).  These problems may lead to urinary tract infections (UTI), which could be the only sign of the condition.  More rarely, malrotated kidneys may be part of more complex combinations of congenital (birth) defects.

    Additional testing or imaging might be recommended when a malrotated kidney is noticed in a baby, especially after a UTI.
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