Hydronephrosis is a structural condition where the kidney fails to release urine into the bladder. This urologic condition can cause swelling of the kidney. It may affect one or both kidneys. The pressure created by trapped urine in the kidney can damage the structure of kidney cells.
Hydronephrosis is the result of another underlying condition within a patient’s body, whether it be genetic or randomly occurring. A defect among the connections between the ureter, bladder, and kidney can lead to hydronephrosis, and this is commonly seen among newborns.
A blockage in the urinary system, such as a kidney stone, blood clots, or scar tissue, can prevent the kidneys from draining urine. Vesicoureteral reflux can also lead to hydronephrosis. Reflux is a blockage within the ureter, which can lead to urine going back into the kidney. An enlarged prostate, persistent urinary infections, or cancer along the urinary system can also cause hydronephrosis.
Depending on its cause, the following symptoms can occur when a patient experiences hydronephrosis:
A urologist will diagnose a patient with hydronephrosis using a combination of tests and examinations. A physical examination of the pelvis or rectum may be performed to check for blockages. Blood and urine tests will also be completed during this process. A urologist may examine the internal structures using tools such as an ultrasound, MRI, or cystoscopy.
The treatment of hydronephrosis is dependent on its underlying cause. The ultimate goal is to remove the obstruction of urine, eliminate excess urine from the kidney, and reduce swelling. The following treatment plans are options a patient has for this condition:
Sometimes surgery may need to be performed if the blockage is caused by a blood clot or scar tissue. If the condition is caused by something more severe, such as cancer, other treatments such as a nephrectomy, or surgical removal of one or both kidneys, may be required.
The urologists at AUUA can diagnose and treat all cases of hydronephrosis, no matter what its cause. Men’s urology is one of the specialties AUUA practices. Call or visit AUUA’s website to learn more about the conditions we treat.