The kidneys lie retroperitoneally in the abdomen, typically extending from T12 to L3 (although the right kidney is often situated slightly lower due to the presence of the liver). Their main function is to filter and excrete waste products from the blood, also responsible for water and electrolyte balance in the body.
Pyelonephritis is inflammation of the kidney parenchyma and the renal pelvis, typically due to bacterial infection. Whilst it is most common in younger women, some patients are more predisposed to developing the condition due to risk factors or anatomical anomalies. Patients can become very unwell with pyelonephritis, therefore urgent investigation and management is essential.
Renal stones form the mainstay of many urologists’ work and are common presentations to emergency departments. As such, it is important for surgical trainees to know how to appropriately manage such patients. Renal cancer is a less common cancer, however can present with, amongst others, flank pain or haematuria, therefore investigation of these clinical presentations is essential.