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Kidney Diseases

Small Left Kidney

02/24/2009

Question:

Few months back in a normal medical check up I discovered that my left kidney is very small and may be not working or if it is working the functioning is very low. Is it a disease? What health risks do I face? What precautions I should take?

I have gone through regorous physical training but never I had any problems. 6 months back I was selected to be an officer in the army but this fact suddenly came out in medical tests (when ultrasound was done). It was a great setback to my career. please help me.

Answer:

It is not possible to say exactly what the risks are unless the actual cause of the small kidney is known.  A small kidney may be caused by a previous infection or by damage to the artery supplying the kidney.  Or you may have been born with a small kidney that failed to develop in the first place. 

If you were born with the small kidney, it may never cause you a problem (there are lots of people who only have one, or who donate one to a relative or friend and get along perfectly well afterwards).  However, if the kidney was normal and gradually shrank as you got older, there is the possibility that the same process may affect the other kidney (infection, arterial blockage, for instance). 

The earliest signs of kidney disease may be high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and/or abnormal blood tests (BUN and creatinine). 

Since you only have one working kidney, it's important to take good care of it.  After a thorough evaluation of kidney function and blood pressure by your doctor, you should have your kidney function and urine protein checked at least yearly, even if they stay normal for your entire life, as it is hoped they will.

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Response by:

Mildred   Lam, MD Mildred Lam, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University