What causes hydronephrosis?

Hydronephrosis is caused by a variety of underlying diseases, disorders or conditions that obstruct or slow the flow of urine though the ureter, bladder or urethra. Hydronephrosis can also be caused by certain conditions that result in backflow of urine into the kidney. Your doctor’s goal is to determine the cause for the hydronephrosis and associated conditions. Causes include:

  • Bladder stone or tumors that block the flow of urine from the bladder, causing urine to back up into the ureters and kidneys

  • Blood clot

  • Congenital narrowing of the ureters or the ureter valves

  • Enlarged prostate

  • Kidney stone

  • Neurogenic bladder (bladder that does not empty due to nerve damage)

  • Pregnancy

  • Tumor or cancer of the ureter that presses and impinges on the ureter. A tumor or cancer of the uterus, intestine, or other area can also press on the ureter.

  • Ureter scarring due to injury or surgery

  • Ureteropelvic junction obstruction (UPJ, a blockage in the area where the kidney connects to the ureter; UPJ can be present at birth or caused by scarring due to infection, kidney stone, or surgery)

  • Urethral stricture (scarring of the urethra, which can block the flow of urine from the bladder, causing urine to back up into the ureters and kidneys)

  • Vesicoureteral reflux (condition in which urine flows backward up the ureters and into the kidney)

What are the risk factors for hydronephrosis?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing hydronephrosis. Risk factors include:

  • Blood clotting disorders

  • Cancer in the pelvic or lower abdominal area

  • Enlarged prostate

  • Frequent urinary tract infections

  • Neurogenic bladder (damaged bladder nerves)

  • Pregnancy

  • Urinary tract or pelvic organ surgery

Reducing your risk of hydronephrosis

Not all people who are at risk for hydronephrosis will develop the condition. However, you can lower your risk of developing hydronephrosis by seeking prompt medical care for urinary symptoms, such as frequent urination, painful urination, and difficulty urinating.


What is hydronephrosis?

Hydronephrosis is an abnormal condition of the kidney. The kidneys are vital internal organs located in the upper abdomen. Normally, people have two bean-shaped kidneys, which form a part of the urinary tract in the genitourinary system.

Hydronephrosis occurs when an underlying disease, disorder or condition creates a partial or total obstruction or blockage of the ureter, the t... Read more about hydronephrosisintroduction


What are the symptoms of hydronephrosis?

Symptoms of hydronephrosis and common coexisting conditions and underlying causes of hydronephrosis can vary. Sometimes there may be no symptoms at first. General symptoms may include:

  • Cloudy or discolored urine
  • Difficulty urinating or painful urination (dysuria)

How is hydronephrosis treated?

Treatment of hydronephrosis varies greatly depending on the underlying cause of disease. Treatment can include:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Kidneys and the Urinary System

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