Hydronephrosis

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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What are the symptoms of hydronephrosis?

There may or may not be direct symptoms of hydronephrosis depending upon the underlying cause.

Individuals with acute hydronephrosis, for example symptoms from renal colic due to a kidney stone begin with an acute onset of intense flank or back pain radiating to the groin, associated with nausea, vomiting, and sweating. Colicky pain comes and goes and its intensity may cause the person to writhe or roll around or pace in pain. There may be blood seen in the urine.

Chronic hydronephrosis develops over time and there may be no specific symptoms. Tumors in the pelvis or bladder obstruction may develop silently and the person may have symptoms of kidney failure. These are often nonspecific and may include weakness, malaise, chest pain, shortness of breath, leg swelling, nausea and vomiting. If electrolyte abnormalities occur because the kidneys are unable to regulate sodium, potassium, and calcium, there may be heart rhythm disturbances and muscle spasms.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/23/2015

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