Children's Hospital Colorado

Kidney Injury

Urgent or Emergency Care?

If you believe your child needs immediate attention and you have concerns for a life-threatening emergency, call 911. Not sure what counts as urgent and what's an emergency when your child is sick or injured? When it can't wait, know where to take your kids.

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What is a kidney injury?

A kidney injury is a cut or bruise on a kidney. Sometimes, the injury results in a collection of blood either in or around the kidney which causes damage to the kidney.

Kidneys are located in the back of the abdomen and protected by back muscles and the rib cage. Due to their age and development, children have a higher chance of injuring one or both of their kidneys. 

The function of kidneys is to remove waste from the body through urine. It's important to keep the kidneys working to keep the body in good health.

What causes kidney injury?

It can be caused by:

  • Blunt trauma to the stomach or back, such as a getting hit by a hockey stick
  • Penetrating trauma, such a stab wound in the stomach or back

Who gets a kidney injury?

They are usually seen in people who:

  • Have been in a car accident
  • Play contact or high-energy sports

What are the signs and symptoms of a kidney injury?

  • Swollen or firm abdomen
  • Pain inside or on the side of the abdomen
  • Fast heart rate or dizziness
  • Bruise on the abdomen or back
  • Blood in the urine, inability to urinate

These symptoms do not always mean that your child has injured his or her kidneys. Find an emergency care location close to you for an evaluation. 

What tests are used to diagnose a kidney injury?

During the evaluation in the trauma center, your child's specialist may order the following to look for signs of injury and/or internal bleeding:

  • A blood test
  • An ultrasound 
  • CT scan to confirm the injury and give your child's doctor a better idea of the severity of the injury.

Why choose Children's Hospital Colorado for kidney injury tests and treatment?

At Children's Colorado, our diagnostic equipment is perfectly sized for a child. Also, our doctors specialize in diagnosing injuries and diseases in children. We use the most current medical information to provide the best pediatric care for your child.

What to expect from a kidney injury test:

Both the ultrasound and CT scan are fast and painless tests.

  • During an ultrasound, a doctor places a probe on your child's stomach to see a picture of your their organs. There is no radiation exposure with an ultrasound. 
  • During a CT scan, your child lies on a bed and slides through a machine, which gives the doctor multiple views of their stomach, including the top, side and front. 

How do specialists at Children's Colorado make a diagnosis?

Our pediatric specialists make a diagnosis by gathering all of the information from the tests and looking at the CT scan. Using this information, the doctor will determine if there is damage to the kidneys and determine the best treatment approach.

How is a kidney injury treated?

Most kidney injuries are treated with bed rest.

The goal of treatment is to keep your child's kidneys functioning and in good health. In most cases, kidney injuries are treated without surgery. Children are placed on bed rest for five to seven days until the visible blood in their urine clears up. Additionally, blood tests may be completed to monitor for internal bleeding.

Sometimes, kids need surgery.

If the kidney is severely damaged, a procedure may be required to stop the bleeding. After surgery, the child stays in the hospital until the organ starts healing. Once they are discharged, your child may have limited activity for a period of time.

What to expect when you leave the hospital

Sometimes the blood in the child's urine has not completely resolved before being discharged. In this case, the child should follow-up with his or her pediatrician every week to test for blood in the urine. 

After a child has experienced an injury to their kidney, they should have their blood pressure checked by the pediatrician at least once a year depending on the severity of the injury.

Why choose Children's Colorado for your child's kidney injury?

We are a nationally-ranked children's hospital in the U.S. as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. We also have a Level 1 Regional Pediatric Trauma Center, which means that our specialists can treat even the most complex injuries or diseases.

All of our specialists, including doctors and nurses, are specially trained to take care of children. That means when your child is treated at here, we provide family-centered care to help you and your get back to normal life.

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