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Nephrostomy Tube Insertion


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


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Anesthesia is medicine to make you comfortable during the procedure. Healthcare providers will work with you to decide which anesthesia is best for you.
    • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during the procedure. You may get anesthesia through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.
    • Local anesthesia is a shot of medicine put into the area where the needle will be placed. It is used to numb the area and dull the pain. You may still feel pressure or pushing during the procedure.

During your procedure:

  • You will be lying on your stomach for this procedure. An ultrasonography or fluoroscopy may be used during the procedure to guide a needle into your kidney. These are types of x-rays that will show your kidneys on a screen. Your healthcare provider will insert a needle into your lower back. When the needle reaches your kidney, small amounts of urine will be collected and sent for tests. Your healthcare provider will inject dye, gas, or air to help him see your kidney more clearly.
  • A guide wire and catheter may be used to dilate (widen) the area where the needle will be passed through. A nephrostomy tube will be inserted and pushed slowly through this area until it reaches your kidney. The tube will be secured with stitches, an attachment device, or a balloon. The tube will come out of your skin and be connected to a drainage bag outside your body.

After your procedure:

You will be taken to a room where you can rest. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. The urine drainage bag will be checked for blood. It is normal to have some blood in your urine for 1 or 2 days after you have a nephrostomy tube placed. The amount of urine in the bag will also be checked to make sure that the tube is draining all of the urine from your kidney. When your healthcare provider sees that you are okay, you may be able to go home. If you are staying in the hospital, you will be taken to your hospital room.

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
  • Nephrostography is a test that will be done to check for any problems after your procedure.


You may get an infection or bleed more than expected. Nerves, tissues, and other parts of your kidney may be damaged. Other organs near your kidney may be hurt during the procedure. Air, fluids, blood, or urine may get into your abdomen. The catheter may move out of place, get blocked, or not work as it should. Without the procedure, pain and other symptoms may get worse. You may have long-term kidney damage.


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.

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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.

Further information

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