What is urinary tract obstruction?
Your urinary tract is the path that urine follows from your kidneys to your bladder and out of your body. Obstruction means your urinary tract is blocked somewhere along that path.
Urinary tract obstruction can happen in your kidneys, the tubes that connect each kidney to your bladder (ureters), your bladder, or the tube your pee comes out (urethra)
Many things can cause urinary tract obstruction, including scar tissue, tumors, or kidney stones
A urinary tract obstruction can cause pain and infection
If it goes on long enough, a urinary tract obstruction can cause kidney damage
Doctors remove the blockage with medicine or surgery depending on what caused it
In hydronephrosis, the kidney is swollen (distended) because the flow of urine is obstructed. Urine backs up behind the obstruction and remains in the kidney’s small tubes and central collecting area (renal pelvis).
What causes urinary tract obstruction?
Common causes of urinary tract obstruction include:
In children: an abnormality the child was born with, such as a narrow urethra
In older men: an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) The prostate is a gland located between a man’s bladder and penis. The tube (urethra) that carries urine from the bladder and out the penis runs right through the middle of the prostate. The... read more )
Other causes of urinary tract obstruction include:
Scar tissue due to radiation therapy, surgery, or procedures
Cancerous or noncancerous (benign) growths
What are the symptoms of urinary tract obstruction?
Symptoms of urinary tract obstruction depend on where the obstruction is, how quickly it happens, and how severe the blockage is.
Severe pain on one side of your belly or one side of your back below your ribs
Decreased urine flow
Urinating more often at night
Nausea and throwing up
You may have a fever and pus or blood in your urine, if the obstruction causes a urinary tract infection Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) .
How can doctors tell if I have urinary tract obstruction?
Doctors suspect a urinary tract obstruction from your symptoms. To know for sure they usually do:
Ultrasound or CT scan
If that shows obstruction but not the cause, then doctors may:
Do voiding cystourethrography (VCUG), a test where doctors inject a dye into your bladder using a catheter and take an x-ray to see the flow of your urine
Use a flexible viewing tube to examine your urethra, prostate, and bladder
Doctors may also do blood tests to look for signs of kidney damage and urine tests to look for a urinary tract infection.
How do doctors treat urinary tract obstruction?
Doctors will remove the blockage from your urinary tract.
If you have a kidney stone, doctors usually wait for it to pass on its own
If a kidney stone doesn't pass on its own, doctors try to break it up using powerful sound waves (shock wave lithotripsy How do doctors treat kidney stones? Your urinary tract includes: Kidneys, two bean-shaped organs that make urine Ureters, the tubes that drain urine from each kidney to your bladder Bladder, a hollow organ that holds urine until... read more ) or remove the stone using a scope
For an enlarged prostate, doctors give you medicines or hormones to reduce the size of your prostate
If they can’t remove the blockage, doctors insert a tube through your kidney to drain urine
Doctors will also treat any problems your urinary tract obstruction caused, such as a urinary tract infection or kidney problem.