Hydronephrosis is a swelling in the kidneys caused by urine becoming trapped. It’s usually caused by a blockage in the urinary tract or something disrupting the normal urine flow.
A blockage or problem in the urinary tract means urine is unable to drain from the kidneys, or flows the wrong way up back into the kidneys. This can lead to a build-up of urine in the kidneys, causing them to become stretched and swollen.
Signs and symptoms
Patients with hydronephrosis may have no physical symptoms. It may cause flank pain below your ribs and above your pelvis.
Hydronephrosis increases the risk of recurrent UTIs and may result in kidney scarring and loss of function that can lead to kidney failure. It may be a sign of vesicoureteral reflex (VUR), especially if it is in both kidneys. However, there are several other possible diagnoses such as kidney stone, scar or growth in the ureter that need to be ruled out.
This condition is detected by radiological imaging such as ultrasound scan of the kidneys.
Improving bladder management to ensure low storage pressures is essential. It’s also important to minimise UTIs, and monitor kidney health. Speak to your urology nurse.