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What are the Different Types of Hydronephrosis Surgery?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Hydronephrosis is a medical condition in which the kidney becomes swollen due to a buildup of urine, caused by an obstruction or blockage. This condition can cause pain, fever, and infection. If left untreated, kidney function can decline to the point of complete failure of the affected kidney. Hydronephrosis surgery is often required in order to effectively treat this condition. Some types of hydronephrosis surgery include the placement of drainage tubes into the kidney or removal of the object causing the obstruction, depending on the individual situation.

If the urine buildup in the kidney is present above the cause of the obstruction, a soft tube known as a nephrostomy tube may be inserted beneath the skin and into the kidney in order to drain the excess urine. Another type of hydronephrosis surgery is the insertion of a ureteral stent, a plastic tube used to connect the ureter to the kidney, thus promoting better urine drainage. Some potential side effects of each of these forms of hydronephrosis surgery include infection as well as the possibility of the tube becoming displaced.

If a prostate disorder, such as prostate cancer, is the cause of the urinary obstruction, a different type of hydronephrosis surgery may be indicated. In some cases, a procedure will be performed in order to dilate the tube leading from the bladder to the outside of the body, known as the urethra, so that urine can pass by the swollen prostate gland or mass. In some instances, the mass or tumor may need to be surgically removed in order to restore proper urinary function. The prostate gland itself is sometimes removed as well.

Sometimes, a kidney stone can be the reason for the urinary obstruction. A procedure known as lithotripsy is often used if the stone is too large to pass on its own or is causing a significant urinary obstruction that results in kidney swelling. This procedure uses shock waves to break the stone into small pieces, making it possible to clear the obstruction and pass the stone fragments. This procedure often requires hydronephrosis surgery to insert a drainage tube into the kidney until the fragments have passed and the obstruction has been cleared.

If hydronephrosis has gone untreated for a prolonged period of time, kidney failure becomes a possibility. Once this occurs, there is only one type of hydronephrosis surgery that will be at all beneficial to the patient. This surgery involves transplantation of a new kidney from either a living donor or a deceased organ donor. This type of surgery is generally only necessary if both kidneys have stopped functioning at an acceptable medical level.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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