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What is Hydronephrosis

Hydronephrosis is a medical condition where pressure is exacted on the kidneys, leading to their damage. The pressure may be exacted within or from outside the urinary tract thus blocking urine from flowing out of the kidney, thus the pressure builds up in the kidneys. This condition may be experienced on one or even both kidneys, thus leading to swelling due to the urine buildup. One of the causes of the blockage includes enlarged prostate and kidney stones.

There may also be muscle problems between the bladder and the urethra, thus leading to urine back up to the kidneys (Liao et al., 2020). Therefore, hydronephrosis is a disease that occurs within the urinary tract, which includes kidneys, the bladder, and the tubes between the bladder and kidneys, known as the ureters. Typically, the kidneys would have filtered the waste matter in the blood, creating urine, passing through the ureters to the bladder. The urine usually passes from the bladder through the urethra and is expelled from the human body.

Hydronephrosis: Signs/Symptoms, Diagnostic Tests, Treatment

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Hydronephrosis Causes

A human being of any age can develop hydronephrosis and may cause symptoms like lighter or less frequent urination sessions, due to the fact that less urine is passing from the kidneys to the bladder. When in fact the urine stays longer in the kidneys, it tends to absorb blood, thus leading to the expelling of urine with blood. The pressure buildup within the kidney and on the lower abdomen leads to pain on either side of the lower abdomen (Krajewski et al., 2017).

Hydrogenases may cause urinary tract infection, thus leading to cloudy and painful urination after an abnormally strong urge. The patient may also develop nausea, a fever, or even begin vomiting. Children may experience the above mentions sigs and not feeding well due to the loss of appetite, which leads to a reduction in energy levels and consequentially unusual irritability.

Hydronephrosis is caused by vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), which is an episode that involves the muscular valve connecting at the end of the connection between the kidney and the bladder (Şimşir et al., 2018). This causes the urine to be forced back to the kidney and a phenomenon known as reflux. There may also be an obstruction within the urinary tract, anywhere involving the kidneys, bladder, and tubes. This obstruction tends to interfere with the normal flow of urine, involving flow, pressure, and blockage.

Hydronephrosis & Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the womb may be pushed against the tubes within the urinary tract, a phenomenon that tends to be very common. Kidney stones may move from the kidneys, causing a blockage in the urinary system. An enlargement of the prostate gland cay causes a tube blockage between the bladder and the penis. The obstruction and compression of the urethra may cause occur on the outlet to the urinary bladder.

Hydronephrosis and Cancer

Cancer may also affect the urinary tract, including cancers on the ovary, cervix, bladder, kidney, and prostate, which leads to the formation of a tumor that presses the urinary tract (Şimşir et al., 2018). The tubes connecting the kidney and bladder may be narrowed and blocked which may be as a result of an infection or injury. The nerves around the bladder mat are also damaged so that the normal functioning of the urinary tract is affected. Hydronephrosis may develop in unborn children.

Hydronephrosis: Signs/Symptoms, Diagnostic Tests, Treatment

Hydronephrosis Diagnosis

Physician may diagnose hydronephrosis by the use of an ultrasound scan, whereby the sound waves are sent inside the body in order to detect whether the kidneys may be swollen. Ultrasounds are used on pregnant women to determine the fetuses’ health. During this period, the kidney may appear swollen in the pictures captured leading to the need for a more dedicated ultrasound scan on the kidneys. After the kidneys have been confirmed to be swollen, the urine can be tested for any form of infection or even blood, a procedure known as a urine test.

Hydronephrosis Blood Test

A blood test may also be conducted to detect any infection signs of an infection within the kidneys. Specialized nuclear scans may be used in order to show how urine moves through the body of the patients. A physician may use a CT scan to get a three-dimensional image of the urinary tract and the adjacent organs (Liao et al., 2020). Another applicable procedure, in this case, is a voiding cystourethrogram, which is a special x-ray to detect an obstruction or reflux. A dye is added to the urine within the bladder, and an x-ray image is taken to detect the flow of urine in the bladder.

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Hydronephrosis Treatment

To treat hydronephrosis, the physician needs to detect the underlying cause of hydronephrosis. The urine backlog is drained to reduce the pressure within the kidneys and the risk of permanent kidney failure, mainly when the hydronephrosis is severe. A doctor may also insert a catheter, a thin tube through the urethra to the bladder, to detect the cause of the pressure buildup, after which they prescribe a treatment for the underlying cause.

This may be done by the use of antibiotics and the prevention of urinary tract infections (Krajewski et al., 2017). Among relatively healthy adults, the treatment of the underlying cause leads to a reduction in pressure buildup. If the condition is more severe, a surgical procedure may be used to remove the obstruction and remove the urine blockage physically.

Important Understanding of our World


  • Krajewski, W., Wojciechowska, J., Dembowski, J., Zdrojowy, R., & Szydełko, T. (2017). Hydronephrosis in the course of ureteropelvic junction obstruction: An underestimated problem? Current opinions on the pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment. Advances in clinical and experimental medicine: official organ Wroclaw Medical University26(5), 857-864.
  • Liao, X. X., Yang, J. H., & Xing, N. Z. (2020). Intractable hiccup due to giant hydronephrosis: a rare case report and literature review. International journal of surgery case reports67, 134-138.
  • Şimşir, A., Kizilay, F., & SEMERCİ, M. B. (2018). Comparison of percutaneous nephrostomy and double J stent in symptomatic pregnancy hydronephrosis treatmentTurkish journal of medical sciences48(2), 405-411.