What is Hydronephrosis

Dilation and distension of the renal pelvis and calyces as a result of obstruction of free flow of urine is the primary cause of hydronephrosis. This leads to a continuous atrophy of the kidney due to failure of urine to flow. This condition of the kidney can affect either one kidney or both and the resultant effects are reduced normal functioning of the kidney.

Causes of hydronephrosis are differentiated based on whether the cause is inside the urinary system or outside. Simply, they are known as intrinsic and extrinsic causes. The most serious causes of this condition are associated with the bladder, ureter and urethra. Scarring of the ureter and kidney stones obstructs the smooth flow of urine as it moves from the kidney on its way to the bladder. Storage of urine in the ureter causes the kidney to swell resulting in hydronephrosis. In cases where the urethra is unable to empty the bladder, similar swelling of the kidneys is also observed.

Some other causes of this extremely serious condition also originate from outside the urinary system as highlighted above. Such include body tumors and cancers such as cancer of the cervix and of the prostate. They affect the ureter by compressing it and as a result impends urine from flowing. Other causes of this kidney condition are pregnancy and strictures caused by radiation therapy.

Hydronephrosis may present itself either as acute or chronic hydronephrosis depending on the extent of its advancement in the body. Symptoms depicted by these two are also different being very serious in acute stage as compared to chronic. One of the most notable symptoms is acute back pain which radiates to the groin area. These may lead to presence of blood in the urine which definitely necessitates immediate medical attention. Other notable symptoms are nausea and vomiting which are evident in both cases. In chronic hydronephrosis, the patient may also show signs of muscle spasms as well as electrolyte abnormalities in the body.

Hydronephrosis can be diagnosed in a number of ways. The therapist may take the history of all the above stated symptoms and analyze them to determine if the patient is actually suffering from the condition. As it can still be suffered genetically, it is important to review the family history of the patient and lastly, taking laboratory tests can give very satisfying results. Some of the most result oriented lab tests are such as urinalysis and a complete blood count which may reveal if the person is actually suffering from hydronephrosis. Other blood tests such as determining the glomerular filtration rate can help assess the functioning of the kidney. Technological tests such as scans of the abdomen and x rays of the bladder and urethra can also be used to diagnose the disease.

Hydronephrosis is treated by restarting a smooth flow of urine in the system which can be done surgically. In advanced levels of the condition, bladder catheterization can be practiced. Hydronephrosis is a very serious condition which can lead to kidney failure which can result to death of the victim if not diagonised early enough.

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