What is Pelvic Kidney & How is it Treated?|Causes, Symptoms and Complications of Pelvic Kidney

What is a Pelvic Kidney?

The pelvic kidney is a kidney that stays in the pelvis and does not move up to the original position which is near the rib cage and upper back.  Kidney movement happens during the sixth to the ninth week of fetal development.(1) It mostly migrates to the lumbar region in the ninth week. If it does not, it becomes ectopic. Most of the time there are no symptoms but a person might suffer from complications.

Causes of Pelvic Kidney

The exact cause of pelvic kidney is not known. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, pelvic kidney might occur due to a genetic disorder, infection, or chemical reactions during fetal growth.(2)


Symptoms of Pelvic Kidney

A pelvic kidney may not cause any symptoms but may increase the risk of urinary tract infection and kidney stones.(1)

The pelvic kidney mostly goes undiagnosed. It is diagnosed when the doctor is treating other health problems.


Some people with pelvic kidney might show the following symptoms:

Complications of Pelvic Kidney

The possible complications of the pelvic kidney include:(3)

  • Urinary Tract Infection: Urine removes the waste through the urinary tract, but an accumulation of bacteria in the tract may lead to infection. It is very common in people with pelvic kidneys.
  • Kidney stones: Mineral and salt stones can develop in one or both the kidneys
  • Hydronephrosis: In this condition urine builds up in the kidney causing swelling. It can occur in people of any age.(4)

Children with pelvic kidneys are asked to wear protective gear while engaging in sports to prevent injuries.

Diagnosis of Pelvic Kidney


Following are the tests that are needed to determine if a person has kidney disease.


An ultrasound can be helpful in determining whether a fetus has a pelvic kidney. It helps in showing the size and location of the kidney. It can be diagnosed during the 20th week of pregnancy.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

In some cases, the kidney may be too small and therefore difficult to spot. Ins such cases MRI can be performed. The machines used in MRI use magnetic fields and radio waves to produce images of the internal organs. It helps in detecting the size and location of the kidney.


Radionuclide Scan

This test helps in evaluating renal anatomy. A radioactive chemical is given that can be helpful in detecting cancer, infection, and other disorders.

Intravenous Pyelogram

This is an x-ray examination that helps the doctor in viewing the urinary tract with the help of contrast dye. It helps in determining kidney stones, cancer, kidney cyst, scarring, birth anomalies, and enlarged prostate.

Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG)

VCUG or cystogram can be helpful in indicating the size of the bladder and checking whether its draining urine properly. During this procedure, a tube is used to insert a dye into the bladder. X-ray images of the kidney and bladder are taken while the bladder fills and empties.

It is a safe procedure, but some people experience nausea, vomiting and hot flashes.

Treatment of Pelvic Kidney

If the pelvic kidney is not causing any symptoms, no treatment may be needed. (3)

The problem with the urine flow may need treatment of the infection and removing the blockage if present. Also, surgery may be needed to fix the kidney position. This can be helpful in better urine drainage.

In case of severe kidney damage, removal of the kidney may be needed.

Most people with pelvic kidney do not know they have it as there are no symptoms. Surgical removal may be needed if there is severe kidney damage and the other kidney is working properly. People with children with an ectopic kidney who practice sports or other intense activities should speak with the doctor for safety instructions.(2) The doctor may recommend suitable precautions and suggest a treatment.