Horseshoe kidney

Horseshoe kidney

Horseshoe kidney, also known as renal fusion, is a congenital disorder affecting about 1 in 400 people. In this disorder, the patient's kidneys fuse together to form a horseshoe-shape during development in the womb.

Fusion abnormalities of the kidney can be categorized into two groups: horseshoe kidney and crossed fused ectopia. The horseshoe kidney is the most common renal fusion anomaly.


In patients with this disorder, the central portion of the kidney will be found just inferior to the inferior mesenteric artery because its embryologic ascent is arrested by its presence. Persons affected by this disorder may experience nausea, abdominal discomfort, kidney stones and urinary tract infections. There is currently no cure for renal fusion other than symptomatic treatment.

Associated conditions

While most cases of horseshoe kidneys are asymptomatic and discovered upon autopsy, the condition may increase the risk for:

  • Kidney Obstruction - abnormal placement of ureter may lead to obstruction and dilation of the kidney.
  • Kidney Infections - associated with vesicoureteral reflux.
  • Kidney Stones - deviant orientation of kidneys combined with slow urine flow and kidney obstruction may lead to kidney stones.
  • Kidney Cancer - increased risk of renal cancer, especially Wilm's tumor, transitional cell carcinoma, and carcinoid tumor. Despite increased risk, the overall risk is still relatively low.

The prevalence of horseshoe kidneys in females with Turner Syndrome is about 15%.

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