Congenital Anomalies of the Kidneys and Urinary Tract

The fellowship-trained, board-certified pediatric nephrologists with Norton Children’s Nephrology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, have the training and experience to treat children experiencing congenital anomalies of the kidneys and urinary tract.

What Are Congenital Anomalies of the Kidneys and Urinary Tract?

Congenital anomalies are differences in the kidneys and urinary tract that children can be born with. These congenital anomalies can affect the function of the kidneys and urinary tract. Congenital anomalies are one of the most common causes of chronic kidney disease, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Congenital Kidney Anomalies

Babies typically are born with two kidneys. The kidneys filter waste in the blood, create essential hormones the body needs to regulate blood pressure and help produce red blood cells. Here are some of the most common kidney abnormalities in children:

  • Horseshoe kidney: The kidneys may be fused together, forming a single arched kidney
  • Polycystic or multicystic kidney disease: One or both kidneys have fluid-filled cysts
  • Renal agenesis: Baby is born with one kidney, or baby is born without kidneys
  • Renal hypoplasia: Baby is born with one or two abnormally small kidneys
  • Renal dysplasia: One or both kidneys have not formed as they should

Congenital Anomalies of the Ureters

Children can be born with anatomical differences that can cause kidney issues, including:

  • Duplicated ureter: One kidney drains to the bladder with two ureters instead of one. This condition is called duplex kidney, or duplicated collecting system.
  • Ureteropelvic junction obstruction: A blockage in the area where the kidney attaches to the ureter.
  • Ureterovesical junction obstruction or ureterocele: A blockage in the area where the ureter attaches to the bladder.
  • Vesicoureteral reflux: The ureters attach to the bladder in a way that allows urine to flow back to the kidney.

Signs of Congenital Anomalies of the Kidneys and Urinary Tract

Congenital anomalies of the kidneys and urinary tract are most often detected in a prenatal ultrasound. When found this way, pediatric nephrologists and/or pediatric urologists can monitor the expectant mother for signs of insufficient amniotic fluid. (Amniotic fluid is mostly made up of urine produced by the baby.)

Should an anomaly go undetected before birth, a child may show symptoms in infancy or childhood, including:

  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Lack of energy; persistent tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Poor growth
  • Swelling in the hands, feet or face near the eyes
  • Swollen belly
  • Unexplained fever
  • Vomiting

Treatment

The pediatric nephrologists with Norton Children’s Nephrology can work with you and your child to create a unique treatment plan. Depending on your child’s type of anomaly, treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics to prevent urinary tract infections.
  • Observation: Children can outgrow some issues with urine flow. Children also can live healthy lives with one kidney missing or damaged.
  • Surgery to address vesicoureteral reflux or urethra or ureters blockages.

When these kinds of congenital anomalies are not detected early or treatment is unable to prevent kidney damage, a child may experience chronic kidney disease or kidney failure that requires dialysis and kidney transplantation.

Nephrology

Norton Children’s Nephrology

(502) 588-4970

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