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Hydronephrosis in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What is hydronephrosis?

Hydronephrosis is swelling in one or both of your child's kidneys caused by urine buildup. Urine normally flows from the kidneys to the bladder through tubes called ureters. A blockage in the ureters can prevent urine from flowing properly. Blocked urine flow may be caused by a narrow ureter, a kidney stone, or reflux (urine travels back up to the kidney). It may also be caused by abnormal structure of your child's kidney. Examples include a ureter that drains outside the bladder or swelling at the bottom of the ureters.


What are the signs and symptoms of hydronephrosis?

Your child may not have any signs and symptoms, or he or she may have any of the following:

How is hydronephrosis diagnosed?

How is hydronephrosis treated?

Treatment depends on the cause of your child's nephrosis. It also depends on how severe your child's hydronephrosis is. Your child's healthcare provider may decide to wait and see if it gets better on its own. Your child may need treatment for any conditions that have caused his or her nephrosis. Surgery may be needed to remove a blockage so urine can drain normally. An abnormal structure may be fixed or a shunt may be placed to help widen a narrowed part of the urethra.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your baby's care. Learn about your baby's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your baby's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your baby. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.