Hydronephrosis occurs when urine builds up in the kidneys and cannot drain out to the bladder. The kidneys swell from the excess urine. Swelling can lead to damage. One or both kidneys may be affected.
This is not a condition. It is a sign of another condition that is affecting the kidneys. Swelling of the kidneys can lead to kidney damage.
Hydronephrosis is caused by urinary tract problems, like a blockage that prevents urine from draining out of the kidneys. Blockage can be due to:
Other causes include:
In most cases, the child is born with one of these conditions that affect the urinary tract. For some, the condition develops later on.
In mild cases, there may not be any symptoms. If the condition is more severe, symptoms may include:
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will examine the pelvis or rectum to feel for any blockages. Tests may include:
When an infant is born with a condition that causes hydronephrosis, the doctor will monitor him to see if he will need treatment. In some cases, antibiotics are given to prevent infections. If the condition is mild, further treatment may not be needed, and it may resolve on its own. In severe cases, the doctor will have to do surgery to treat the condition causing the urinary blockage or reflux.
In many cases, hydronephrosis cannot be prevented. However, if your child has nerve problems preventing the bladder from functioning normally, regular bladder emptying and medicines may be able to help prevent this problem.
American Kidney Fund
National Kidney Foundation
BC Children’s Hospital
BC Health Guide
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
Children’s Hospital Boston. Hydronephrosis. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at: http://www.childre... . Accessed July 8, 2010.
LaRusso L. Hydronephrosis. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated May 2008. Accessed July 8, 2010.
Schub E. Hydronephrosis, congenital. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/pointOfCare/nrc-about . Updated December 3, 2008. Accessed July 8, 2010.
Last reviewed June 2012 by Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 6/6/2012
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