Hydronephrosis a build-up of urine in the kidneys. The kidneys swell from the excess urine which cannot drain into the bladder. The condition may affect one or both kidneys. Hydronephrosis is not a disease, but a symptom of a problem with the urinary system.
|Kidney, Ureter, Bladder, and Kidney Stone|
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Hydronephrosis is caused by one of two problems in the urinary system:
Factors that may increase your chance of hydronephrosis include:
- Defect in the urinary system that is present at birth
- Scarring of the ureters, the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder
- Cancers in the pelvic area (bladder, cervix, colon, or prostate)
- Persistent kidney or urinary tract infections
- Blood-clotting disorders
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia
- Neurogenic bladder
- Injury to structures in the urinary system, such as from surgery or trauma
- Enlarged uterus during pregnancy
Hydronephrosis may or may not cause any symptoms. If symptoms occur, they may include:
- Pain in the back, waist, lower abdomen, or groin
- Persistent pain with urination or urinary frequency from urinary tract infections
- Increased urge to urinate or urinary incontinence
- Incomplete urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Unexplained itching
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. It may include a pelvic or rectal exam to feel for blockages. You may be referred to a urologist and/or nephrologist for further diagnosis and treatment.
Tests may include:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
Imaging tests evaluate the urinary system. This can be done with:
A catheter may be inserted into the bladder to drain excess urine from the kidney. Some causes of hydronephrosis resolve without treatment, such as pregnancy and kidney stones.
Treatment options include:
Depending on the cause, hydronephrosis may be treated with:
- Antibiotics for infection
- Medications for neurogenic bladder or to reduce excess uric acid excretion
Surgery is usually not needed, but it may be necessary in some cases. Procedures may include:
In general, the causes of hydronephrosis cannot be prevented. Prompt treatment of conditions that cause hydronephrosis reduces the risk of complications, such as kidney failure .
- Adrienne Carmack, MD
- Reviewed: 05/2015
- Updated: 05/28/2014
Please note, not all procedures included in this resource library are available at Allegiance Health or performed by Allegiance Health physicians.
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