What Is the Treatment for an Enlarged Kidney?

Polycystic kidney disease can cause an enlarged kidney.
Human kidneys connected to veins and arteries.
A diagram of a kidney.
Article Details
  • Written By: Amanda Livingstone
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 05 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Treatment for an enlarged kidney ranges from taking medications to undergoing invasive medical procedures. Noninvasive treatments for the enlargement of the kidneys involve using antibiotics, anti-inflammatory agents and cancer therapy. Invasive treatment options such as subcutaneous draining, stem-cell transplantation and surgery are reserved for more serious cases. Ultimately treatment for an enlarged kidney will depend upon the underlying medical condition causing the renal swelling.

Once the underlying medical condition has been identified, treatment for the enlarged kidney can begin. Common underlying conditions that cause renal enlargement are bilateral hydronephrosis and polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Other conditions such as amyloidosis and infections can also cause enlargement of the kidneys.

Pyelonephritis, better known as a kidney infection, is caused by the Escherichia coli bacterium. One of the symptoms of pyelonephritis is enlarged and painful kidneys. Antibiotics are prescribed for the treatment of an enlarged kidney due to pyelonephritis. Depending on the severity of the infection, antibiotics are typically taken up to 14 days. In some men, treatment may last up to six weeks if pyelonephritis originated from a prostate infection.

Another cause of enlarged kidneys is a metabolic disorder called amyloidosis. The condition occurs when amyloid proteins build up in human organs. Once enough amyloid protein accumulates in surrounding tissues, the disorder causes enlargement of various organs. Several treatment options including cancer drugs and stem cell therapy are available to prevent serious complications.


Chemotherapy and anti-inflammatory agents can help to prevent harmful amyloid deposits from collecting in various tissues and organs. Peripheral blood stem cell transplantation is another treatment option to treat amyloidosis. Stem cell transplantation involves high-dose chemotherapy and transfusion to replace diseased and damaged cells. This procedure is usually reserved for aggressive forms of the disease due to the serious risks the treatment poses.

Unlike amyloidosis, bilateral hydronephrosis and PKD primarily affect the kidneys. Bilateral hydronephrosis is a condition where the urine collecting structures of both kidneys cannot drain into the bladder. The usual culprit of bilateral hydronephrosis is an obstruction of some sort, such as an enlarged prostate. Using a Foley catheter to bypass the obstruction will most likely relieve symptoms associated with bilateral hydronephrosis, such as an enlarged kidney.

Draining the bladder with nephrostomy tubes is another treatment option for bilateral hydronephrosis. The tubes are either inserted through the skin or directly placed in the ureters via stents. Ureters are the structures that physically connect the kidney and bladder together. Once the underlying cause of the blockage is treated and removed, enlargement of the kidneys should dissipate.

PKD is a condition where clusters of cysts develop within the kidneys and they become enlarged. Treatment for PKD involves blood pressure medications, diuretics and a low-salt diet. Surgical intervention is sometimes needed to relieve severe pain or obstruction.


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