Hydronephrosis Treatment

Make an Appointment

Hydronephrosis happens when urine builds up in the kidneys and cannot drain out to the bladder. This causes one or both kidneys to swell. At UVA Health, you'll find urologists who have the expertise to treat this condition.

Hydronephrosis Treatment at UVA Health

Some causes of hydronephrosis resolve without treatment, such as pregnancy and kidney stones. But if you need surgery or other treatment to correct this problem, you'll find highly skilled experts at UVA Health. 

Treatment may involve:

  • Draining excess urine from the kidney
  • Removing the blockage
  • Antibiotics to treat urinary tract infections
  • Medications to reduce excess uric acid excretion
  • Bladder catheter to drain the urine
  • Nephrostomy — a tube in your midsection to drain urine from the kidney
  • Surgery to remove a blockage or correct a defect
  • Surgery to remove part or all of the kidney

What Causes Hydronephrosis? 

Two urinary system problems cause it:

  • A blockage may prevent urine from draining out of the kidneys.
  • A condition known as reflux may cause urine to flow back into the kidneys from the bladder.

These problems may result from:

  • A congenital blockage or defect in the urinary system
  • Kidney stones
  • A blood clot
  • Scarring of the ureter
  • A tumor in the bladder, cervix, colon, or prostate
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Enlarged uterus during pregnancy
  • Persistent urinary infection in the kidneys
  • Neurogenic bladder
  • Injury to structures in the urinary system, from surgery or trauma

Diagnosing Swollen Kidneys

Your doctor may examine your pelvis or rectum to feel for blockages. Your doctor may also want to run these tests:

  • Urine tests
  • Blood tests
  • Bladder catheterization
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Intravenous urogram
  • Computed tomography angiography (CTA)
  • MRI scan
  • Cystoscopy
  • Voiding cystourethrogram