Hydronephrosis occurs when urine builds up in the kidneys and cannot drain out to the bladder. The kidneys swell from the excess urine. The condition may affect one kidney or both. Hydronephrosis is not a disease itself, but rather a sign of another disease or condition affecting the kidneys. Swelling of the kidneys can lead to kidney damage.
This is a serious condition that requires care from your doctor. Most patients who have hydronephrosis will not know it until it has already damaged the kidney. Therefore, if you are at risk for this condition, it is important to be under the care of a physician.
Hydronephrosis is caused by two problems in the urinary system. A blockage may prevent urine from draining out of the kidneys. Or a condition called reflux may cause urine to flow back into the kidneys from the bladder.
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
Dribbling after urination
Nausea and vomiting
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam, which may involve examination of the pelvis or rectum to feel for blockages. You will likely be referred to a urologist and/or nephrologist for further diagnosis and treatment.
Tests may include:
Urine tests—to check for blood, protein, bacteria, or other evidence of damage to the kidneys
Blood tests—to check for evidence of damage to the kidneys
Bladder catheterization—a thin tube, called a catheter, inserted into the bladder to try to drain it
—a test that uses sound waves to examine the structures in the abdomen (in this case the kidneys, ureters, and bladder)
Intravenous urogram (or pyelogram)—an x-ray test that uses contrast dye to assess the structure and function of the kidneys, bladder, and ureters (may not be used if kidneys are damaged)
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a