What is Floating Kidney?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 January 2019
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Floating kidney, which may also be called hypermobile kidney or wandering kidney, is known by the medical name of nephroptosis. It is a condition that causes the kidney to drop downward, especially when a person stands up or goes from a lying down to upright position. This can also be called prolapse or kidney prolapse. The downward movement of the kidney suggests it is not fully fixed in place by the tissues that surround it, and it’s a condition that’s been noted for more than a century by physicians.

Those most commonly affected by this disorder are young women, usually women who are thin and have long waists. Rarely, the condition can be caused by congenital defect. Injury to the kidney or a blow to the area just above or below the kidney can also occasionally cause floating kidney. More commonly mobility of the kidney occurs without any injury.


The kidneys are usually supported by tissue called perirenal fasciae, which is soft tissue that is part of connective tissue. When perirenal fasciae are not present in abundance, the floating kidney is not fixed in place, and upon standing it can drop as low as the pelvis. This may or may not cause symptoms. When symptoms emerge, they can be distinctly uncomfortable and include pain in the flank, chills, nausea, and elevated blood pressure. The displacement of the kidney may also cause the ureter, the structure that passes urine from the kidneys to the bladder to kink. This can result in extreme pain upon or difficulty urinating.

Diagnosis tends to be made by taking a series of x-rays in a supine (lying down position) and then in an upright or standing position. These can tell pretty definitely whether the kidney is truly moving downward when a person stands or whether some other condition may be causing the symptoms. Most people are unaware they have the disorder, and usually only emergence of symptoms prompts evaluation for the condition. If the condition is symptomless and diagnosed, it usually requires no treatment.

For those suffering from symptoms of floating kidney, treatment usually exists in the form of kidney surgery called nephrophexy. In the past, this surgery was considerably more invasive but it now may be performed via laparoscopic techniques, resulting in much quicker recovery time. The surgery essentially fixes the kidney in place, reducing its mobility and ending painful symptoms.

Most people with floating kidney have few if any complications, and even when requiring surgery, the surgery itself has an excellent outcome. This is not thought of as a fatal condition, since treatment is readily available. It can be highly uncomfortable, but many who have the condition may not feel discomfort. In numerous cases, people live their whole lives with nephroptosis without being aware they have it.


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Post 15

I am 49 and I have Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (MCTD). We haven't been able to pinpoint which ones yet but I keep searching for something related to organ prolapse and floating kidney.

I'm a natural red head and other natural red heads in the family have had the floating or detaching organs also so I believe it's related to that gene. I have had my kidney reattached twice and believe it or not, it's once again off. It has caused severe pain, severe hypertension and chronic infections. Yes, it can get tangled up in other organs. Mine actually became lodged in my ribs sideways causing all kinds of problems.

If anyone has a diagnosis of MCTD or red hair I would be interested in this information. Since my family and I suffer from so many issues related to the connective tissue, any help is a blessing.

Post 14

My mom is 39 years old and she has a moving kidney and the doctor told her that this could cause an expansion in the renal pelvis! So is this dangerous? What can she do?

Post 13

I have a floating kidney, and I didn't know until I had a X ray done for kidney stones.

Post 12

For comment 9 (anon131348). Your need for a stent in your ureter was likely due to the floating kidney causing a kink in the ureter. It sounds as though it is probably going to continue to give you pain and problems. If you are really tired of enduring it, get the surgery. See my reply to comment 8 also. --A nurse.

Post 11

FOR #8 (anon128165): If I had passed out several times from this condition I would certainly consider it to be time to get it fixed. It isn't a very bad surgery- you may be able to have it as outpatient surgery and just take some pain pills and take it easy for a week or two. The repair should be permanent. A Urologist should do this procedure for you.

Post 10

can floating kidney be treated?

Post 9

I had many problems during my pregnancy. They even had to insert a stent when I was 20 weeks pregnant but it was due to my kidney not draining. Only now, two years later, I was also found to have a floating kidney which irritates me and can be quite painful. Will it be like that forever unless I go for the surgery?

Post 8

I have a floating kidney. when i stand or lie down my kidney does not move back to position. it bulges out sometimes and is uncomfortable i have passed out three times and believe it is caused by my kidney. lack of blood due to cut off circulation. could i die from my kidney twisting around other organs?

Post 7

I have had surgery many years ago for a floating kidney. It has been stabilized in place and the surgery was very successful. Can this repair last forever without it happening again?

Post 6

I have a floating kidney and have just found that my brother has one too. Is this problem hereditary? My daughter has just had a kidney scan because of lower back pain - could this be related?

Post 3

What are the complications of a floating kidney while pregnant?

Post 2

Yes,a younger chid can get a floating kidney if she is 12-13 because as per the cause it can be congenital, if she is thin and has long waist.She can also acquire it due to trauma above or below kidneys.

Post 1

Can a younger child get a floating kidney if she is 12-13?

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