Uropathy – obstructive
Definition of Obstructive uropathy
Obstructive uropathy is a condition in which the flow of urine is blocked, causing it to back up and injure one or both kidneys.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Obstructive uropathy occurs when urine cannot drain through a ureter (a tube that carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder). Urine backs up into the kidney and causes it to become swollen (hydronephrosis).
Symptoms associated with obstructive uropathy vary depending on whether the obstruction is acute or chronic, whether it is unilateral or bilateral, whether it is complete or partial, and what caused it. Common symptoms of obstructive uropathy include the following:
Signs and tests
The diagnosis of obstructive uropathy is made on imaging studies. Common radiographic studies used to diagnose obstructive uropathy include:
Stents or drains placed in the ureter or in the renal pelvis may provide short-term relief of symptoms. Nephrostomy tubes, which drain urine from the kidneys through the back, may be used to bypass the obstruction. A Foley catheter, inserted through the urethra, may also be helpful.
If an acute obstruction is rapidly diagnosed and repaired, kidney damage is minimal or reversible — regardless of being unilateral or bilateral.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 3/22/2010