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Hydronephrosis: Urine Accumulation In the Kidneys

Hydronephrosis: Urine Accumulation In the Kidneys
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urine accumulation

Hydronephrosis refers to urine accumulating in the kidneys, causing one or both kidneys to become enlarged. This accumulation is the result of a partial or complete blockage in the urinary tract, which prevents urine from leaving the body. Hydronephrosis can become serious if not promptly treated. The condition is very common, affecting more than 200,000 new patients every year in the US alone.

What Causes Hydronephrosis?

  • Kidney stones
  • Congenital defect
  • Blood clots
  • Scar tissue from a previous surgery or injury
  • Tumors in the bladder, cervix or colon or prostate
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Pregnancy
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Inflammation in the urethra or urinary tract

Types of Hydronephrosis

Hydronephrosis is categorized by the degree of renal pelvic dilation. It can range from a Grade 0 (no measurable dilation) to a Grade 4 (severe dilation).

urinary blockage

Hydronephrosis Symptoms

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Pain in the back
  • Pain in the flank
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Painful urination
  • Inability to urinate
  • Feeling of incomplete urination
  • Fever

Diagnosing Hydronephrosis

A primary care physician can diagnose hydronephrosis if symptoms are recognized early on. Hydronephrosis symptoms that go unnoticed or develop rapidly often lead to diagnosis in emergency room settings. Diagnosis relies on diagnostic imaging of the kidneys and urinary tract.

Treating Hydronephrosis

Treating hydronephrosis depends on what caused the condition. Cases that are mild, typically caused by a urinary tract infection, can be treated with antibiotics. Moderate to severe cases caused by blockages usually need surgical intervention to restore the natural urinary flow.

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