Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe

Obstructive uropathy


Your kidneys produce urine, which drains through your ureters to your bladder so that it can leave the body. If there is a blockage of this drainage system, the urine backs up, and if it is under pressure, this could potentially damage the kidneys. This condition is called obstructive uropathy. You may be born with it or it may develop later in life.


You may experience repeated infections, back pain under your ribs and blood in your urine. If your kidneys have stopped working, you may feel nauseous.


Ultrasound is the first test in the majority of cases. If your condition is caused by stones in your bladder or kidneys, your doctor may use X-ray or CT without dye to diagnose you. CT with dye (CTU) can be used to look for other causes of the condition, such as a tumour. MRI and nuclear medicine occasionally play a role in diagnosis.


The treatment you will receive depends on the cause of the obstructive uropathy. If the blockage is severe and the health of your kidney is threatened, the blockage will be drained through the skin by a tube inserted into your ureter (this procedure is called nephrostomy) or an internal tube (double J stent).

Sometimes the blockage can be relieved through the urethra and bladder (cystoscopy).  Stones can be removed through the skin, through the bladder and by open surgery. If you have a tumour, you may need surgery or radiation to remove the blockage.