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Nephrostomy Tube Care

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What is a nephrostomy tube?

A nephrostomy tube is a catheter (thin plastic tube) that is inserted through your skin and into your kidney. The nephrostomy tube drains urine from your kidney into a collecting bag outside your body. You may need one tube for each kidney.

Why might I need a nephrostomy tube?

You may need a nephrostomy tube when something is blocking the normal flow of urine. Urine from your kidneys passes through tubes called ureters. Your ureters are connected to your bladder. If your ureters get blocked by stones or blood clots, urine stays in your kidneys and will cause problems. The nephrostomy tube is put in to drain your urine directly from your kidneys. You may need this tube if you have a condition such as pelvic tumors, damage to your urinary system, or prostate cancer.

How do I clean the skin around the nephrostomy tube and change the bandage?

Since the nephrostomy tube comes out of your back, you will not be able to care for it by yourself. Ask someone to follow the general directions listed below to care for your nephrostomy tube. Ask your healthcare provider how your skin should be cleaned and which skin barriers and attachment devices to use.

How often do I need to change the bandage, skin barrier, and tube attachment device?

Change the bandage around the tube, the bolsters, skin barriers, and tube attachments at least every 7 days. If your bandages, barriers, or devices get dirty or wet, change them right away, and as often as needed. If your nephrostomy tube is to be used for a long period of time, the tube needs to be changed every 2 to 3 months. Healthcare providers will tell you when you need to make an appointment to have your tube changed.

How do I care for the urine drainage bag?

You may use a reusable or a single-use (disposable) urine bag. If you are using a disposable urine bag, use it only once, and then throw it away. If you have a reusable urine drainage bag, ask healthcare providers when and how to clean it. The following are general directions for cleaning a reusable urine drainage bag:

What can I do to prevent problems with my nephrostomy tube?

What else should I know?

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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

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