Kidney enlargement in the male fetus: Your comprehensive guide

Periodic prenatal checks reveal a variety of health issues in the foetus, including enlarged kidneys in the male foetus, as described below.

Kidney enlargement in the male fetus: Your comprehensive guide

You can learn everything you need to know about the condition known as foetal hydronephrosis, which refers to the enlarged kidneys in male foetuses:

Kidney enlargement in the male fetus

It is a swelling of the kidneys that happens when a lot of urine builds up in the renal pelvis due to an obstruction in the ureter's normal flow of urine. As a result, urine cannot enter the bladder, increasing pressure on the kidneys and causing them to swell.

The severity of an enlarged kidney depends on the size of the enlargement and the extent of the obstruction. It may result in the kidneys' inability to produce urine if it is not fixed.

As one to two foetuses are diagnosed with enlarged kidneys out of every 100 pregnancies, enlarged kidneys can develop in both male and female foetuses, but male foetuses are more likely to develop enlarged kidneys than female foetuses.

Causes of enlarged kidneys in the male fetus

Transient hydronephrosis is the medical term for when an enlarged kidney in a male foetus disappears on its own because specialised doctors may not be able to determine what caused it to happen.

In other cases, kidney enlargement occurs for several reasons, some of which are mentioned in the following:

  • There are several locations along the urinary tract where blocks can develop.
  • Urinary reflux or reversal of flow.
  • Due to the fetus's inadequate growth, the pelvis has been able to enlarge more than usual.
  • the foetus having an additional ureter.
  • infection of the developing kidneys of the foetus with a polycystic kidney, a congenital condition in which the kidneys do not function properly.

Diagnosis of enlarged kidneys in the male fetus

The following information about the diagnosis of enlarged kidneys in the foetus is provided:

1. Prenatal diagnosis

Through an ultrasound examination of a pregnant woman, specialised doctors can identify an enlarged kidney in a male foetus before birth. This examination allows them to see the fetus's organs and form an image of its structure because it reveals that parts of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, are enlarged.

In addition, medical professionals recommend a follow-up ultrasound to see if an enlarged kidney in a male fetus is getting worse or better over time. Prenatal tests may be carried out to confirm the existence of other health issues or to try and determine the cause of the enlarged kidney.

2. Postpartum diagnosis

After the birth of the child, the doctor will conduct a set of tests to see if the problem of enlarged kidneys still exists and to find out what kind of treatment the child needs, including:

  • Ultrasound examination: During the test, the child's bladder and kidneys are inspected to determine whether the child's kidney enlargement is improving or not.
  • Kidney tests: These examinations demonstrate the functionality of the baby's kidneys.
  • X-rays: These images demonstrate how well the infant's bladder is functioning.
  • Examination of the bladder and urethra to determine how they empty during urination in a child's urinary tract and bladder.

Treatment of enlarged kidneys in the male fetus

A paediatric urologist should be consulted to monitor the condition of a male foetus with enlarged kidneys after the condition has been identified before birth. This is because the condition is likely to go away before birth or in the first few months after birth.

As enlarged kidneys are categorised on a scale from first degree, which means simple kidney enlargement, to grade four, which means a severe case of enlarged kidney, the urologist decides the course of treatment for enlarged kidneys based on the extent of the enlarged kidney before birth to treat the underlying cause.

Following birth, a male foetus with enlarged kidneys has the following treatment options:

  • Third-degree kidney enlargement from first degree

The child is given antibiotics to prevent kidney infections, which frequently have very few side effects, but the condition of the enlarged kidneys can resolve on its own without treatment over time.

  • Renal hyperplasia in grade 4

Many doctors resort to surgery to correct the problem, and this solves the underlying problem in the vast majority of cases.

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