Research: Ectopic right thoracic kidney associated with Bochdalek hernia as the cause of diagnostic confusion

Forensic Sci Med Pathol

. 2021 Sep;17(3):456-460. doi: 10.1007/s12024-021-00385-x. Epub 2021 Jun 1.

Ectopic right thoracic kidney associated with Bochdalek hernia as the cause of diagnostic confusion

Vladimir Živković 1Danica Cvetković 1Tatjana Atanasijević 1Slobodan Nikolić 2Affiliations expand


A 61-year-old man who was a psychiatric patient and an alcoholic was admitted to hospital after a fall in his bathroom. He showed signs of hemorrhagic shock, and CT scans showed the presence of the right kidney and part of the right retroperitoneum in the right hemithorax, surrounded by liquid. Surgery showed that the right hemidiaphragm was intact and that no intraabdominal viscera prolapsed into thoracic cavity. The bleeding in the right retroperitoneum was evacuated. The surgical report also stated that “the right kidney and ureter were explored and no injuries or active bleeding were found”. The patient died the third day after admission. Autopsy revealed a livid swelling covered with parietal pleura in the right half of the thoracic cavity, behind the costophrenic sinus, about 20 × 15×12 cm in size, filled with about 1500 ml of blood, with ectopic right kidney in the right half of the thorax, slightly rotated posteriorly and downwards. The kidney was smaller (80 g in weight), compared to the normally positioned enlarged left kidney (300 g). The right hemidiaphragm was also intact with small Bochdalek’s foramen behind the posterior edge, with communication between the right retropleural and retroperitoneal spaces, through which intact elongated right renal artery (15 cm), vein (14 cm) and ureter were passing. The cause of death was hemorrhagic shock due to retroperitoneal bleeding, with coagulation disorder as possible contributing factor. Intrathoracic kidneys may pose many diagnostic and management dilemmas for clinicians and pathologists. Association between a Bochdalek hernia and an intrathoracic renal ectopia is very rare and may be confusing for doctors in different clinical situations.

Keywords: Autopsy; Bochdalek’s foramen; Bochdalek’s hernia; Intrathoracic kidney; Renal ectopia.

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