38-Year-Old Man with Severe Back Pain Discovers He Has Three Kidneys

"We had never seen anything like this," a doctor said.

  • A man suffering from back pain accidentally discovered he has three kidneys.
  • His low back pain was secondary to a herniated disc and had nothing to do with the anomaly.
  • Doctors incidentally found out while evaluating the results of his laboratory tests.
  • The man has a normal left kidney and two kidneys fused together in the pelvis.

A 38-year-old man went to Hospital Do Rim in São Paulo, Brazil complaining of severe low back pain. Laboratory and imaging tests were done to identify the cause of his ailment. Incidentally, the doctors discovered a rare congenital abnormality—the man has three kidneys.

However, the man was in pain due to a herniated disc, and not because of his uncommon condition. His computed tomography (CT) scan revealed a slipped disc between his lumbar 4 (L4) and lumbar 5 (L5).

The imaging result likewise showed that he has a normal-looking left kidney, and two more kidneys fused together in the pelvis.
Photo: The New England Journal of Medicine

The ureter from the man’s left kidney converged with another ureter from another left kidney, above its entrance into the bladder. The ureter from the right pelvic kidney entered the bladder on the right side. Dr. Jose O. Medina-Pestana and Renato D. Foresto explained this finding in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The duplicate left kidney probably resulted from a premature division of the left ureteral bud, according to the study written by the aforementioned doctors. Furthermore, his right and lower left developing kidneys fused and failed to ascend during development.

This extremely rare anomaly is called ‘Supernumerary Kidney.’
Photo: Radiologia Brasileira

There are less than 100 reported cases in medical literature about this.

People are commonly asymptomatic and the condition is often inadvertently detected because of another complaint.

However, fever, hypertension, abdominal discomfort or palpable mass may be presenting symptoms, according to NCBI.

“We had never seen anything like this,” Dr. Foresto, told IFLScience. “The surprise was great, followed by concern there was something wrong with the patient’s health.”

Despite the patient’s condition, his renal function was normal.

“Further investigation with abdominal ultrasound and tomography was considered sufficient since the cause of the pain had already been diagnosed and there were no other changes in laboratory tests,” Dr Foresto said.

Meanwhile, they prescribed the unnamed patient with oral analgesics for his back pain.

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