Hydronephrosis is a medical condition which develops when the kidneys swell as a consequence to the failure of normal drainage of urine from the kidney into the urinary bladder. By and large, the swelling afflicts one kidney only, but may involve both kidneys as well.
Hydronephrosis results from some other underlying disease in your body and occurs when there is a blockage or occlusion in the urinary tract.
Signs And Symptoms Of Hydronephrosis
Normally, the urine flows through the urinary tract with minimal pressure. Pressure builds up when there’s an impediment in the urinary tract. If the urine accumulates for a prolonged interval of time, the kidneys swell. The kidney may get considerably engorged with urine and start to press onto the adjacent organs. Untreated, this pressure can impair the kidneys permanently.
Common signs and symptoms include:
- Passing urine frequently
- Increased urge to urinate
- Pain in the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain whilst urinating
- Incomplete voiding
- Urinary tract infections are common too and that manifests as – burning pain while urinating, cloudy urine, fever with chills and back pain.
What Are The Causes Of Hydronephrosis?
Hydronephrosis develops due to internal and / or external conditions which affect the kidney and the urinary collecting system.
The commonest cause of hydronephrosis is unilateral obstructive uropathy. This is an occlusion in one of the ureters, (connecting the kidneys and the bladder). Normally, an obstruction occurs due to the presence of a kidney stone; scarring and blood clots also cause a ureter occlusion. An obstructed ureter causes the urine to reflux back in to the kidney, and this sets off the swelling.
Other causes of an obstruction include:
- A twist at the place where the ureter connects with the pelvis of the kidney.
- BEP (prostatitis) in men.
- Pregnancy is an important cause – it causes pressure due to a growing baby.
- Tumor masses in or near the ureter.
- Constriction of the ureter – congenital or trauma related.
Treatment Options For Hydronephrosis
Treatment for hydronephrosis focuses on eliminating the blockage in the ureter which is affecting the flow of urine. The treatment regimen depends up on the cause of the obstruction.
- Your doctor will insert a stent in the ureter, which helps it drain into the bladder.
- Some may advise inserting a nephrostomy tube, which helps the urine to drain through the back.
- Antibiotics are given to fight the infection.
- Your doctor may also recommend surgical intervention to treat the obstruction. In case a blood clot or a scar tissue is causing the occlusion, your surgeon will excise the affected area altogether. He will then reconnect the healthy ends of the ureter to re-establish the normal flow of urine.
In case of a kidney stone, surgery is advocated to get rid of it. Your surgeon will carry out an endoscopic surgery to remove the renal calculus. An endoscopic surgery allows the doctor to make tiny incisions, thereby decreasing the recovery time significantly.
In most cases of hydronephrosis, a timely identification of the condition and the possible causative factor as well as starting the most optimal treatment regimen is very essential. If you receive treatment promptly, the prognosis looks good. Eliminating the obstruction is vital for your kidney to return to normal functioning.