How is hydronephrosis treated?

The aim of treatment is to restore the flow of urine from the kidney and to decrease the swelling and pressure caused by urine back-up. Treatment depends on the underlying condition, as that is the primary problem. You should discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider.

If the hydronephrosis is acute or sudden, a stent or soft tube (nephrostomy tube) may be inserted through the skin into the kidney to drain off excess urine. A soft plastic tube called a ureteral stent may be placed between the kidney and bladder by a urologist during a cystoscopy to drain excess fluids.

If hydronephrosis is caused by stones in the kidneys or ureters, treatment options may include:

  • Shock wave lithotripsy: This is the most common method for treating kidney stones. High-energy shock waves are emitted by a machine outside to break up the stones into dust or smaller fragments so they can pass out of the body.
  • Ureteroscopy: A thin tube with special instruments may be placed in the urethra to allow a doctor to break up and remove the stones. This method is used most often for stones in the bladder or lower half of the ureters. Ureteroscopy may be used in combination with other techniques, such as a pulsed dye laser or electrohydraulic lithotripsy, to break up stones. This is the method of choice for pregnant women, patients with blood clotting disorders and those who are morbidly obese.
  • Surgery: When kidney stones are very large or difficult to remove, they may have to be removed surgically. Also, you might need surgery in the case of tumors or other types of blockages.

Medications used to treat hydronephrosis:

  • Antibiotics may be administered to prevent or treat urinary tract infections.
  • Analgesics may be used to relieve pain.

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