A dilated kidney is a kidney that is larger than a normal kidney.
This normally happens as a result of a blockage in the urinary system. A dilated kidney leads to the flow of urine slowing into the bladder; the kidney retains some of the urine. It is caused by an obstruction at the point where the bladder and the urethra meet. The obstruction is usually kidney stones or an enlarged prostate.
Doctors will make a decision on what to do about a dilated kidney depending on the age of the patient. Unborn babies can quite often develop a dilated kidney in the womb and this will normally show up on an ultrasound. This will normally clear before the birth or very soon after the birth.
Bladder X-rays and renal scans will be necessary to check on the progress of a dilated kidney, if the progress is mild, then the normal course of action is to keep checking every four to six months, however, if the problem worsens then surgery may be required. If the kidney is simply dilated and not causing any distress then it is safe for it to remain untreated, although it should be checked out on a regular basis to ascertain the size of the enlargement.
Dilated kidneys can become infected and cause increased pain in the abdominal area, as well as urinary infections. If the kidney is not functioning properly for some time it may shrink and become scar tissue, again this is only a problem if pain or discomfort is caused. The dilation of the kidney is not a major problem on its own, but can become a problem when kidney damage or infection occurs, and at this stage surgery will be required.