Hydronephrosis; Chronic hydronephrosis; Acute hydronephrosis; Urinary obstruction; Unilateral hydronephrosis; Nephrolithiasis - hydronephrosis; Kidney stone - hydronephrosis; Renal calculi - hydronephrosis; Ureteral calculi - hydronephrosis; Vesicoureteral reflux - hydronephrosis; Obstructive uropathy - hydronephrosis
Hydronephrosis is swelling of one kidney due to a backup of urine. This problem may occur in one kidney.
Hydronephrosis (kidney swelling) occurs as the result of a disease. It is not a disease itself. Problems that may lead to hydronephrosis include:
The blockage and swelling of the kidney may occur suddenly or may develop slowly.
Hydronephrosis in one kidney occurs in about 1 in 100 people.
Treatment depends on the cause of the kidney swelling. Treatment may include:
People who have only one kidney, who have immune system disorders such as diabetes or HIV, or who have had a transplant will need treatment right away.
People who have long-term hydronephrosis may need antibiotics to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.
Loss of kidney function may occur if the condition is left untreated.
If hydronephrosis is left untreated, the affected kidney may be permanently damaged. Kidney failure is rare if the other kidney is working normally. However, kidney failure will occur if there is only one functioning kidney.
Call your health care provider if you have ongoing or severe flank pain, or fever, or if you think you may have hydronephrosis.
Prevention of the disorders that cause this condition will prevent it from occurring.
Frøkiaer J. Urinary tract obstruction. In: Skorecki K, Chertow GM, Marsden PA, Taal MW, Yu ASL, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 38.
Zeidel ML. Obstructive uropathy. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 123.
Last reviewed on: 3/28/2016
Reviewed by: Scott Miller, MD, urologist in private practice in Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.