Floating Kidney (Movable Kidney)

In some people the kidney is more freely movable than normal, usually when there is a general dropping (or visceroptosis) of the abdominal organs due to weakness of the muscular abdominal walls. The condition is more often seen in women who complain of aching in the loins, with nausea, vomiting and constipation. The kidney on the right side is more commonly affected. The kidneys have usually some degree of movement during the act of breathing, and this mobility may be greatly increased so that the whole organ can be pushed freely about inside the abdomen. The condition may be discovered by accident in the first place, when the patient is perhaps being examined by a doctor for some other reason. One-third of all cases of floating kidney have no symptoms, in which case no treatment is necessary.

Occasionally, sudden attacks of severe pain occur, and blood may be passed in the urine; in such attacks the kidney may become twisted, or the ureter kinked, and such attacks are apt to be recurrent; they are often called a ‘Dietl's crisis’.

Treatment. Operation is seldom necessary. In Dietl's crisis the patient should be kept warm in bed, and given sedatives. The foot of the bed should be slightly raised, and warm bottles should be applied to the abdomen. Occasionally, surgical fixation of the kidney is undertaken but it is not always successful.

A specially designed abdominal belt with a rubber pad to support the kidney may be advised, but these belts are of doubtful value. In thin patients a fattening diet will help to increase the fat around the kidney and thus support it.

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