Bruised kidney

Specialty of Nephrology

What is a bruised kidney?

A bruised kidney, also known as a renal haematoma, is an injury caused by trauma to the kidney. In most cases, this is due to a road traffic accident or sports accidents. The trauma results in bleeding inside the kidney, which can be serious. 10% of people with abdominal traumatic injury have renal haematoma and about 3% of hospital stays for traumatic injury are due to traumatic injury to the kidney.

Symptoms of a bruised kidney

Following the incident that resulted in injury, a bruised kidney may cause the following symptoms:

  • Ache or pain in the abdomen or lower back
  • Skin bruising/discolouration
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle spasms in the back
  • Blood in the urine

Serious cases involving substantial damage to the kidney can cause the following:

Severe damage can even be fatal.

What are the causes of renal haematomas?

The main cause of a bruised kidney is blunt force trauma to the abdomen or back. This can be from an unfortunate accident, such as a fall or a car crash, an injury sustained while playing sport, or the result of a violent incident, such as being kicked in the back.

What is the treatment for a bruised kidney?

A bruised kidney can be a serious injury and can even be fatal if severe and left untreated. If you suspect a bruised kidney, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Doctors will usually order scans such as MRI and CT scans to assess the damage and check for internal bleeding, while X-rays may be used to check for further injuries sustained at the same time, such as fractured ribs.

Mild cases tend to heal on their own, although patients are often kept under observation during this time. Bed rest may be recommended during this time. It can take around two weeks for a bruised kidney to heal by itself.

More serious injuries may require controlling fluid intake, with doctors administering fluids to keep the patient’s blood pressure stable. If internal bleeding cannot be controlled, the patient may need surgery.

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