How is hydronephrosis diagnosed?

  • Physical examination: Your doctor will ask you about any symptoms you are having and will examine the area near the kidneys and bladder for tenderness or swelling. The doctor may ask about your medical history and your family‚Äôs medical history. Your doctor will look for pelvic swelling. Men may need to undergo a rectal exam to determine whether the prostate is enlarged. Women might require a pelvic exam to evaluate whether there are any problems with the uterus or ovaries.
  • Urine tests: A urine sample will be collected and analyzed to find out if there is blood, stone crystals or any infection and bacteria present.
  • Blood tests: A complete blood count may be performed to determine whether an infection is present. Tests of kidney function including creatinine, estimated GFR (eGFR) and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) may be done.
  • Imaging procedures: The main test done is an ultrasound. This does not require radiation. A CT scan or MRI may be necessary.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/22/2019.


  • National Kidney Foundation. Hydronephrosis. Accessed 5/24/2019.
  • Martin Goldberg, MD, MACP, Ankush Gulati, MD, Patience Wildenfels, MD, Joseph E Scherger, MD, MPH. Obstructive uropathy [First Consult].
  • Merck Manual Consumer Version. Hydronephrosis. Accessed 5/24/2019.

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