Definition

Hydronephrosis is the result of a problem in the urinary tract. Urine drains from the kidneys into the bladder. With hydronephrosis, urine backs up into the kidneys causing a buildup of pressure.

Urinary Tract Blocked By a Stone

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Causes

Causes of hydronephrosis:

  • Kidney stones
  • Blood clots
  • Growths or tumors
  • Scarring—can happen from an accident or surgery
  • An enlarged prostate
  • Urine can't drain into the bladder
  • Bladder is not draining well
  • Pregnancy

Risk Factors

Your risk is higher if you have:

Symptoms

Some people don't have symptoms. If symptoms appear, they may cause:

  • Pain in the back, waist, lower belly, or groin
  • Problems related to urination:
    • Pain
    • Urgency
    • Lower output
    • Cycles of lower and higher output
    • Bladder not feeling emptied out
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may also have:

Treatment

The goal of care is to treat the cause. This will help ease pressure and limit further problems.

Care may involve:

  • Fixing structural defects
  • Treating a kidney stone
  • Placing a stent—a tube is used to keep a passage open
  • A tube is placed into the kidney to drain urine— nephrostomy
  • Taking out of all or part of the kidney (rare)— nephrectomy

Prevention

If you have problems with your kidneys, getting prompt care will lower your chances of complications.

RESOURCES:

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
https//www.niddk.nih.gov

National Kidney Foundation
https://www.kidney.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

The Kidney Foundation of Canada
https://www.kidney.ca

REFERENCES:

Hydronephrosis. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15417-hydronephrosis. Updated March 18, 2014. Accessed June 5, 2018.

Hydronephrosis. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/hydronephrosis. Accessed June 5, 2018.

Hydronephrosis. NHS Choices website. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hydronephrosis/. Updated June 23, 2015. Accessed June 5, 2018.

Nephrolithiasis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114904/Nephrolithiasis. Updated February 5, 2018. Accessed June 5, 2018.

Obstructive uropathy. Merck Manual Professional Version website. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/obstructive-uropathy/obstructive-uropathy. Updated March 2018. Accessed June 5, 2018.

Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD  Last Updated: 6/5/2018