What is Nephrostomy?

A Nephrostomy is an artificial opening created between the kidney and the skin through which a thin plastic tube (nephrostomy tube) is passed into the area where urine is collected. If the ureter (the tube that passes urine from the kidney to the bladder) is blocked, the kidney will become damaged by the impeded flow of urine. To allow the kidney to function normally, a nephrostomy tube is placed to drain urine from the kidney. X-ray imaging and Ultrasound are used to guide the tube, and an Iodine-containing contrast medium is injected into the part of the kidney that gathers urine for better visibility, enabling the tube to be positioned correctly.

When is a Nephrostomy used?

Nephrostomy has many functions such as:

  • The removal of renal calculi (kidney stones)
  • Obtaining direct access to the upper urinary tract for procedures such as Urethroscopy (blockages of the urethra), Cystoscopy (treatment of bladder stones and tumors), Ureteroscopy (treatment of the ureter’s stones or tumors) and Nephroscopy (treatment of the kidney lining’s stones or tumors)
  • The diagnosis of ureteral obstructions, filling defects (localized defects in the stomach, duodenum, or intestine) and other abnormalities using antegrade radiography
  • The deliverance of chemotherapeutic agents to the renal collecting system
  • The prevention of disease after removal of renal pelvic tumors for chemotherapy

What are the Risks and Benefits of Nephrostomy?

Nephrostomy prevents dysfunction of the kidney while protecting it from infection or damage. Additionally, this treatment identifies any abnormalities in the ureter, diagnosing any underlying problems and providing access. Rarely, nephrostomy can cause severe bleeding or other rare side effects such as vascular injury necessitating kidney removal, tube blockage or serious infection.