What Is a Pelvic Kidney?

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  • Written By: Helena Reimer
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 27 January 2019
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A pelvic kidney, also known as an ectopic kidney or pancake kidney, is found in a condition wherein the kidney does not ascend out of the pelvic area during fetal development. Instead, the kidney remains within the pelvic area and in some cases can function normally, or it might cause problems. Some of the characteristics of a pelvic kidney include a smaller and more fibrous kidney as well as a short ureter, which is the tube that carries the urine from the kidney to the bladder. In many cases, there are no symptoms, but the condition can give way to other complications and diseases related to the heart and skeletal system. If symptoms are present, they commonly result in abdominal pain and urinary problems.

The kidneys begin to form within a month after fetal growth has begun and can be examined before birth via an ultrasound. The extra tissue mass within the pelvic area also can be detected via a rectal or vaginal examination. This diagnosis, however, needs to be followed up and confirmed with an X-ray to be certain that it is a pelvic kidney.


It is common for a pelvic kidney to function normally without any symptoms. If the kidney does not function normally or if there is a blockage in the ureter, it can result in mild or sharp pains within the lower abdomen. In some cases, the kidney is formed in the shape of a "U" and is known as a horseshoe kidney. When this happens, it can result in kidney stones, hydronephrosis and urinary tract infections. Complications can also include problems with the cardiovascular and central nervous systems.

Mullerian dysgenesis is another complication that often affects females. It is a condition wherein the reproductive organs are not developed properly or are missing altogether. Underdeveloped ovaries, a deformed or missing uterus and a short vagina are commonly associated with a pelvic kidney. The symptoms of this condition include irregular menstrual cycles and infertility. The reproductive system in men also can be affected and can result in undescended testicles.

No treatment is necessary for a pelvic kidney if there are no symptoms present. In cases when symptoms are present, the kidneys can be removed with surgery. It also might be possible to relocate the kidney, but this operation has not been shown to be effective. Certain medications can be subscribed to help the patient better deal with the symptoms.


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Post 6

I am 28 years old i have had one child three years ago. I had a kidney stone and went to the E.R because at the time I did not know what was wrong. They wanted to do a CT scan to make sure I passed the stone. Only then did I find out my right kidney is in my pelvic area. I had to have a c-section with my daughter because she just wouldn't come out. Well, now we know why. Throughout my life, I have had a few miscarriages, but my menstrual cycle is normal and I have had pap smears all my life, and not one doctor or anyone else had a clue there was

something not normal.

The ER doctor said to me while dong a pap smear that I had a very low uterus, but he was the first doctor to ever say anything to me about it being lower than most. I have not seen a specialist yet, but I have had no problems other than trying to get pregnant.

Post 5

My case was discovered early 1994 and ever since I haven't lived as I did previously. I used to eat, drink and perform all activities I wanted to. But once I discovered that case, everything turned became abnormal for me. What led me to get diagnosed was that I have had dark urine and sometimes bloody and that was associated with my fluid intake of certain things such as mangoes, strawberries, hibiscus, tomatoes, etc.

After being diagnosed, I decided to take care of that kidney condition as advised by the doctors. My life is now unstable. I also suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. I get frustrated when I know that I am developing kidney stones in that left pelvic kidney

. I am also currently suffering from continuous recurrent UTI (burning urination, difficulty urinating sometimes). The urine culture always shows no bacterial growth. I believe that symptoms are changing with age (referred cardiac mild pain, nerves pain). What doctors suggest or recommend is to remove the kidney or adjust its position! I am afraid of both, and If I decided to do it, where could I get it done and how much would it cost?

Suffering Patient Third World, African continent

I believe in God. Where there is hope there is a will.

Post 4

An obstetrician will look at the kidneys of a fetus on an ultrasound when the mother has been pregnant for twenty weeks. That’s when my boyfriend’s mother found out he had a pelvic kidney.

The ultrasound showed that his kidneys were being held down in his pelvis because blood vessels in his aorta were blocking them from rising above his waist. His mother was scared that this meant he would have to deal with horrible pain or that he wouldn’t live very long. However, he ended up not showing any symptoms, like many of the people with pelvic kidneys.

He did need to wear a medical bracelet to let emergency doctors know about his condition in case he ever had to have treatment while unconscious. It would not be good for a surgeon to accidentally run into his kidneys while doing surgery on another area.

Post 3

My pelvic kidney pain was so intense and persistent that my doctor decided it would be best for me to have a kidney transplant. My sister was a match, so I got a normal kidney from her. Life was so much more pleasant after the operation.

Before the surgery, I seemed to keep a urinary tract infection at all times. Possibly, I might have a week without any symptoms in between infections, but that was rare.

The pain in my pelvic area was so great that I would double over and not be able to straighten up until the pain pill I would have to swallow would take effect. My doctor did not want me dependent upon pain pills for the rest of my life, so he recommended surgery. I’m glad he did.

Post 2

It is possible to have a pelvic kidney and not even know it for years. My aunt did not figure out that she had one until she had her first gynecological exam when she turned eighteen.

She had been prone to kidney stones as a teenager, but her doctor just attributed them to all the sodas she drank instead of water. She also got urinary tract infections several times during the summer months, but full of opinions, her doctor thought she should simply stay out of the murky lake that she liked to swim in.

When she had her appointment with the gynecologist, she found out that her reproductive organs were deformed. She also was told that she had a shorter vagina than most people. She screamed when the doctor inserted the tool that she uses to open the vagina and have a look at it, because it bumped up against her cervix and caused her sudden pain.

Post 1

A pelvic kidney can cause life altering conditions. My aunt decided to become a nun because of hers.

She had always been a devout Catholic, and she believed that the only reason for intercourse was to produce children. Since her ovaries and uterus were missing, she believed that she was not meant to have sexual relations. Therefore, she would never have a husband.

She really was meant to be a nun. She had the kind of dedicated soul required for the lifestyle, and the pelvic kidney condition was simply affirmation of the path her life should take.

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