Hydronephrosis

Hydronephrosis in children occurs when there is a dilation or stretching of the kidney pelvis, which is where urine collects, or ureter, the tube that drains urine from the kidney. Hydronephrosis in children may involve one or both kidneys and can be mild, moderate, or severe, but rest assured that Nemours pediatric urologists specialize in treating both simple and complex cases of hydronephrosis and keep your child's comfort their top priority.

 
Learn More About Hydronephrosis in Children

Hydronephrosis in children may occur when there is a blockage to the flow of urine causing increased pressure "up stream". This can lead to  urine building up above the point of blockage and cause the characteristic stretching and dilation of the urinary tract.

Hydronephrosis in children can also occur due to an abnormal connection between the ureter and bladder that allows urine to flow backward toward the kidney when the bladder contracts to empty. This condition is known as reflux.

Occasionally pediatric hydronephrosis can also be caused by a blockage that has cleared and left the urinary system stretched but not under any pressure.

How is Hydronephrosis in Children Diagnosed?

Medical advances in prenatal ultrasound examinations have helped identify large numbers of infants with urinary dilation or stretching prior to birth. In diagnosing hydronephrosis, Nemours urologists may recommend a voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) and a renal (kidney) scan.

The VCUG tells us if the “one-way” valve in the bladder is functioning, while the renal scan reveals how well the kidneys are functioning and assesses how fast the urine drains from the kidney into the bladder to see if a blockage exists. These studies help determine if surgical repair or immediate treatment is needed since hydronephrosis can lead to urinary tract infections (UTIs) and sometimes permanent kidney damage.