Nephrostomy Tube

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A percutaneous nephrostomy catheter is a small flexible, rubber tube that is placed through your skin into the kidney to drain your urine.

The Purpose of a Percutaneous Nephrostomy Catheter

This catheter may help with:

  • A blockage of the ureter (the structure that normally carries urine from the kidney to the bladder)
  • A hole in the ureter or bladder that is causing urine to leak
  • Preparation for surgery or other procedures on the kidney and ureter, such as removal of a large kidney stone

Prepare For the Procedure

Unless otherwise instructed, do not eat any solid foods within 6 hours or drink any clear liquids within 2 hours of your scheduled appointment.

Notify your doctor at once: 

  • If you take glucophage, insulin, aspirin or a blood thinner 
  • If you have an allergy to x-ray (contrast) dye 

Take your medications as usual, and bring them with you on the day of the procedure.

The Catheter Insertion

The interventional radiologist will use x-rays and/or ultrasound to locate your kidney, and a needle will be inserted through your skin into the kidneys. Contrast (x-ray) dye will be injected through the needle and the nephrostomy catheter will be inserted into the kidney. You may feel some pressure and discomfort when the tube is inserted.

The nephrostomy catheter site will be covered with a dressing and connected to a drainage bag. You may attach the bag to your leg with 2 rubber straps. The urine will flow from your kidney through the catheter into the bag. 

After the Procedure

After the procedure, you will be taken to the recovery room or up to your hospital room on a stretcher. Your vital signs will be monitored frequently for a few hours. You may eat your usual diet, unless you are nauseated or you have other tests scheduled.

Because everyone is different, the length of stay in the hospital will vary. 

How Long Will I Need the Nephrostomy Catheter?

This depends on the reason you needed the catheter:

  • A blockage of the ureter either by stones, infection, scar tissue or tumor: As long as the blockage is present.
  • A hole in the ureter: Until the hole has healed.
  • In preparation for surgery or another procedure on your kidney or ureter: Until after surgery.

Your doctors will discuss with you how long you are likely to need the drainage catheter.