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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 139  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 663-665

Need for a nomogram of renal sizes in the Indian population

Department of Radiology, Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Ondo State, Nigeria

Date of Web Publication9-Jul-2014

Correspondence Address:
Egberongbe Adedeji
Department of Radiology, Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Ondo State
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 25227938

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How to cite this article:
Adedeji E. Need for a nomogram of renal sizes in the Indian population. Indian J Med Res 2014;139:663-5

How to cite this URL:
Adedeji E. Need for a nomogram of renal sizes in the Indian population. Indian J Med Res [serial online] 2014 [cited 2021 Jun 13];139:663-5. Available from:

The determination of normal renal size in any population is important in the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of renal disease [1] . Renal size estimation can be performed measuring renal length, renal volume, cortical thickness or volume. The most accurate of these parameters is renal volume [2],[3] , as the shape of kidney varies considerably. Renal length is, however, the most clinically useful parameter, due to its low inter-observer variation and better reproducibility [2] . Different imaging modalities such as conventional radiographs, intravenous urography (IVU), ultrasound (US), computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have been used to estimate renal size. However, the most accurate of these modalities are the MRI and CT, because these can acquire three-dimensional data and, therefore, do not rely on geometric assumption to estimate organ volume unlike the ultrasonography that is used to measure kidney size in two dimensional nature [3] .

The use of CT as a routine non invasive method to estimate renal size is limited by the need for ionizing radiation and potentially nephrotoxic contrast media. Conversely, MRI has the benefit of acquiring true tomographic data along any orientation without constraints of ionizing radiation and nephrotoxic burden [3] . It is however, very expensive and not readily available especially in the rural and semi-urban areas where majority of population resides. Ultrasound is also known to underestimate renal size by about 20-29 per cent, while MRI underestimates it by about 4-5 per cent [3] . In spite of its shortcoming, renal size estimation using US is still a safe, simple and non invasive method with many advantages over other imaging modalities. These advantages include usage of non ionizing radiation, little or no patient preparation and no medication or injection of contrast media. It is also readily available, less expensive and easily reproducible to a large extent [4] . It should also be noted that renal dimensions measured by using US are smaller than those obtained by using radiography, because no geometric magnification and osmotic diueresis caused by intravenous contrast medium occurs [5] .

Thus, the use of US by Muthusami and colleagues [6] is a good approach as a portable US machine can be made readily available in the nooks and cranny of Indian subcontinent, whenever a large scale study is to be carried out. This cross-sectional study used patients referred for ultrasound examination for non-renal indications; this could have introduced a major selection bias. Since it is a study that was intended to assess the trends and collect preliminary data in healthy Indian adults [6] , it would have been better to recruit the subjects from the community and in population with no apparent medical conditions and optimal renal status based on calculated estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) using serum creatinine as done in other studies [1],[7] .

It is a well known fact that abnormalities of kidney size are present in many renal diseases. Kidney size using either renal length or volume as a unit of measurement, is an important clinical parameter in the evaluation and follow up of kidney transplant patients [8],[9] . It is, therefore, valuable to have a set of standard sonographic measurements to use when these patients are examined in a given population [7] , these seems to be lacking in the Indian population as stated by the authors of this study [6] . The measured parameters used in this study [6] have been shown by many authors to be a good indicator of kidney weight and volume as well as its functional state, it is for this reason that longitudinal axis of the kidney is used as a reliable parameter during clinical examination [10],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17] .

The data from the study have justified the need for a nomogram in Indian population, this could be gleaned from the range of values of renal length determined in this study, in which some individual who are "healthy" may be having renal length of less than 9 cm that is widely acceptable as a cut-off to indicate irreversible renal damage in many populations [18] .

The result of this study also showed that the mean renal length in an Indian population was smaller than the Caucasians, Brazilians, Korean and Japanese population, but closer to values in the Pakistanis, Malaysians, Nigerians and Jamaicans. The reasons for this was ascribed to be due to difference in height, weight, BSA, BMI and other anthropometric measurements among races. The authors have shown a positive correlation between renal length and weight, height and BMI [6] , and this has been corroborated by other study [19] .

The authors also raised a valid point for a need to assess the possibility of racial differences of renal dimensions independent of body sizes, as they found that the renal dimensions in Indian population were smaller than the other races of smaller built such as the Pakistanis, Koreans, Iranians and Japanese compared to the Caucasians, normally of big stature. It was worthy to note that no significant differences were found between the mean left and right renal lengths or gender dependent differences [6] . It is well established by several studies [1],[2],[4],[18],[20],[21],[22],[23] that the mean left kidney length is more than the right kidney length and female kidneys are usually smaller in size when compared to that of males.

Studies have shown that renal length gradually decreases as age advances and this decrease accelerates after the seventh decade of life [23] . The findings of muthusami et al[6] also agree with this, as there was significant decline in bilateral renal length after the age of sixty years. The explanation is that the number of nephrons per normal kidney which varies between 400,000 and 1,000,000, diminishes with advancing age and sex [24] .

The data from the study in this issue [6] have demonstrated the need for a nomogram in Indian population, as knowledge of normal kidney dimensions is valuable for accurate assessment of the abnormal kidney [25] . However, it is advisable that healthy individuals from the community are to be studied instead of hospital patients without apparent renal impairment. The paucity of data on this topic in the Indian subcontinent makes it imperative for this study to be carried out on a large scale.

   References Top

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2.Emamian SA, Nielsen MB, Pedersen JF. Intraobserver and interobserver variations in sonographic measurements of kidney size in adult volunteers. A comparison of linear measurements and volumetric estimates . Acta Radiol 1995; 36 : 399-401.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Cheong B, Muthupillai R, Rubin MF, Flamm SD. Normal values for renal length and volume as measured by magnetic resonance imaging. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2007; 2 : 38-45.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Egberongbe AA, Adetiloye VA, Adeyinka AO, Afolabi OT, Akintomide AO, Ayoola OO. Evaluation of renal volume by ultrasonography in patients with essential hypertension in Ile-Ife, south western Nigeria. Libyan J Med 2010, 5 : 4848.   Back to cited text no. 4
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6.Muthusami P, Ananthakrishnan R, Santosh P. Need for a nomogram of renal sizes in the Indian population -findings from a single centre sonographic study. Indian J Med Res 2014; 139 : 686-93.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Bircan O, Oner G, Saka O, Kavasoglu T, Akaydin M. The estimation of kidney sizes in Turkish population. J Islamic Acad Sci 1993; 6 : 197-201.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Nicholson ML, Windmill DC, Horsburgh T, Harris KP. Influence of allograft size to recipient body-weight ratio on the long-term outcome of renal transplantation. Br J Surg 2000; 87 : 314-9.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Brenner BM, Cohen RA, Milford EL. In renal transplantation, one size may not fit all. J Am Soc Nephrol 1992; 3 : 162-9.   Back to cited text no. 9
10.Lewis E, Ritchie WG. A simple ultrasonic method for assessing renal size. J Clin Ultrasound 1980; 8 : 417-20.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Christophe C, Cantraine F, Bogaert C, Coussement C, Hanquinet S, Spehl M, et al. Ultrasound; a method for kidney size monitoring in children. Eur J Pediatr 1986; 145 : 532-8.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Fitzsimon RB. Kidney length in the newborn measured by ultrasound. Acta Paediatr 1983; 72 : 885-7.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Hederstrom E. Renal size parameter. A sonographic method measuring lumbar vertebral height in children. Acta Radiol Diagn (Stockh) 1985; 26 : 693-8.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Hederstrom E, Forsberg L. Accuracy of repeated kidney size estimation by ultrasonography and urography in children. Acta Radiol Diagn (Stockh) 1985; 26 : 603-7.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Tajima M. [Ultrasonic kidney size measurement. 1. In infants and children]. Hinyokiko Kiyo 1987; 33 : 1735-41.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Tajima M. [Ultrasonic kidney size measurement. 2. In normal adolescents]. Hinyokiko Kiyo 1987; 33 : 1742-8.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Zenki M, Egghart G, Muller M. [The normal kidney size in children. An ultrasound study]. Urologe A 1990; 29 : 32-8.  Back to cited text no. 17
18.Buchholz NP, Abbas F, Biyabani SR, Afzal M, Javed Q, Rizvi I, et al. Ultrasonographic renal size in individuals without known renal disease. J Pak Med Assoc 2000; 50 : 12-6.  Back to cited text no. 18
19.Arooj A, Lam J, Wui YJ, Supriyanto E. Comparison of renal size among different ethnicities. Int J Biol Biomed Eng 2011; 5 : 221-9.  Back to cited text no. 19
20.Barton EN, West WM, Sargeant LA, Lindo JF, Iheonunekwu NC. West Indian Med J 2000; 49 : 154-7.  Back to cited text no. 20
21.Okoye JJ, Agwu KK, Idigo FU. Normal sonographic renal length in adult southeast Nigerians. Afr J Med Sci 2005; 34 : 129-31.  Back to cited text no. 21
22.Brandt TD, Neiman HL, Dragowski MJ, Bulawa W, Claykamp G. Ultrasound assessment of normal renal dimensions. J Ultrasound Med 1982; 1 : 49-52.   Back to cited text no. 22
23.Carrasco JO, Castellanos FR, Kimura E, Herñandez RD, Félix H. Renal length by ultrasound in Mexican adults. Nefrologia 2009; 29 : 30-4.  Back to cited text no. 23
24.Nyengaard JR, Bendtsen TF. Glomerular number and size in relation to age, kidney weight and body surface in normal man. Anat Rec 1992; 232 : 194-201.  Back to cited text no. 24
25.Odita JC, Ugbodaga CI. Roentgenologic estimation of kidney size in adult Nigerians. Trop Geogr Med 1982; 34 : 177-81.  Back to cited text no. 25


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