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Kidney Swelling (Hydronephrosis)

  • What is Kidney Swelling (Hydronephrosis)?

    Hydornephrosis is the swelling of the kidney caused by the accumulation of urine in the kidney. Hydronephrosis is a common abnormality of the urinary tract. It results from the obstruction of the urine flow in the ureter (the tube that removes urine from the kidney into the bladder). Hydronephrosis is mainly a congenital condition i.e. babies are born with it.

  • The causes of hydronephrosis affecting one kidney include:

    • Partial blockage at the upper end of the ureter (at the junction between the kidney and the urine drain pipe)

    Other causes that might lead to hydronephrosis include:

    • Backflow of urine into the kidneys
    • Obstruction of the lower end of the ureter
  • The symptoms of untreated hydronephrosis include:

    • A large lump in the stomach
    • Pain caused by an enlarged kidney

    If the condition is detected after these symptoms develop, most of the kidney function would be already damaged, while the other unaffected kidney can still function normally.

  • Hydronephrosis in babies is investigated using kidney ultrasounds and kidney function scans. The results allow your doctor to determine the location of the obstruction and therefore suggest the best treatment option for your baby:

    • No action may be required, and in some cases the baby’s kidney can get better with time
    • Surgery may be required if the upper end of the ureter is partially blocked to relieve the pressure on the kidney.
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