Hydronephrosis

Hydronephrosis is the most common urinary tract disorder in babies. It often resolves without treatment before or shortly after birth. If it does not resolve, hydronephrosis is a very treatable condition.

    Remarkable Care for Kids

    • Specialized care for kids with hydronephrosis: A multidisciplinary team of specialists work together to provide your child with the best care possible for hydronephrosis. The care team includes high-risk OB/GYNs, neonataologists, pediatric nephrologists, pediatric urologists, radiologists, dietitians, social workers, genetic counselors, advance practice nurses, renal/urologic nurse coordinators and child life specialists.
    • Prenatal care for babies with hydronephrosis: The Rush Fetal and Neonatal Medicine Center offers prenatal testing and diagnosis for hydronephrosis during your pregnancy. The center’s specialized team of neonatologists, nurse practitioners, genetic counselors and social workers will provide you with expert support, evaluation and treatment during your pregnancy and after your baby is born.
    • Comprehensive nephrology care: The pediatric nephrology team at Rush University Children’s Hospital provides comprehensive evaluation, treatment and ongoing care for children with congenital and acquired kidney and urinary tract disorders that can cause hydronephrosis. Your fetal and neonatal team can coordinate a prenatal consultation with a pediatric nephrologist.
    • Top nephrology and urology programs: Both the nephrology program and the urology program at Rush are consistently named top programs in the country by U.S. News and World Report.
    • Expert surgical care: In many children, hydronephrosis resolves without surgery; however, if your child needs surgery, pediatric urologists at Rush specialize in the surgical treatment of hydronephrosis.

    What is hydronephrosis?

    Hydronephrosis is a congenital (present at birth) condition that causes urine retention in one or both kidneys. When this occurs, urine drains slower than it should into the bladder.

    Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to protecting your child’s long-term kidney health. If hydronephrosis resolves early in life, most children do not suffer any long-term health problems. However, if left untreated, hydronephrosis may cause kidney failure, which can lead to a number of serious health problems.

    Causes of hydronephrosis

    Often, there is no known cause for hydronephrosis. But the following congenital renal (kidney) disorders can cause hydronephrosis:

    • Megaureter: A large ureter that can cause urinary tract infections and kidney damage.
    • Posterior urethral valves: A defect in boys’ urethras that blocks the normal flow of urine and can lead to bladder and kidney damage.
    • Prune belly syndrome: A birth defect that includes undescended testicles, urinary tract problems and poor abdominal muscle development.
    • Ureteropelvic junction obstruction: A blockage between the kidney and the bladder that blocks the flow of urine out of the kidneys.
    • Vesicoureteral reflux: A defect in which urine flows backward from the bladder to the kidneys, which can lead to kidney infections and kidney damage.

    Care for hydronephrosis at Rush

    For expectant mothers

    • Monitoring: If your prenatal ultrasound detects that your unborn baby has hydronephrosis, your baby might need additional monitoring throughout the rest of your pregnancy.
    • Consultation: You can also arrange for a prenatal consultation with a pediatric nephrologist to discuss the care your baby will need after birth.

    For your baby

    • Consultation: Once your baby is born, your baby’s care team will coordinate a consultation with a pediatric nephrologist to discuss further testing and a follow-up plan for your baby.
    • Management: To ensure that your baby’s kidneys are functioning properly, your baby may need the following to monitor kidney function:
      • Blood tests
      • Radiographic monitoring, including kidney ultrasounds
      • Follow-up appointments with a pediatric nephrologist
    • Surgery: If your baby needs surgery, your care team will refer you to a pediatric urologist. This can occur immediately after your baby is born or any time after birth, depending on the cause of the hydronephrosis.