The two kidneys are palpated separately. It might be easier to palpate both the kidneys by standing on the right of the patient (in right-handed doctor)

  • You can sit down if needed for your hands to be at the level with abdomen
  • Now place your right hand over the exposed anterior abdomen at the right lumbar quadrant
  • Place your left hand on their back at the corresponding region
  • Gently press the right hand hoping to move the kidney to hit your left hand at the back
  • Now press the left hand to feel it in your right palm.
  • This is the ballotment test
  • You can also feel the left kidney from the left side of the patient.

Causes of palpable kidneys

Occasionally the kidney may be felt.

Unilateral Causes

  • Unilateral hydronephrosis
  • Wilms tumour
  • Hypernephroma
  • Cyst

Bilateral causes

  • Polycystic kidneys
  • Bilateral hydronephrosis
  • Amyloidosis

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