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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.


The week before your procedure:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.
  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • You may need to take antibiotic medicine before your procedure to prevent or treat a bacterial infection.
  • You may need blood tests, an ECG, urine tests, x-rays, or other tests before your procedure. Talk to your healthcare provider about these and other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

The night before your procedure:

  • You may be given medicine to help you sleep.
  • Ask healthcare providers about directions for eating and drinking.
  • You will need to clean out your bowel to get ready for this procedure by doing any of the following:
    • You may need medicine called an enema. This is liquid put into your rectum to help empty your bowel. Ask your healthcare provider how to do this.
    • You may be given 8 to 12 (eight-ounce) cups of bowel prep medicine to drink. Drink 1 eight-ounce cup of bowel prep medicine every 10 minutes until you pass clear fluids. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about this medicine.

The day of your procedure:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Ask your healthcare provider before taking any medicine on the day of your procedure. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital.
  • Bowel preparation:
    • You may need another enema the morning of your procedure.
    • You may be asked to drink 4 to 8 (eight-ounce) cups of bowel prep medicine. This may need to be done if you drank the bowel prep medicine the night before.
  • Healthcare providers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell healthcare providers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.


What will happen:

  • You will be lying on your stomach for this procedure. You may be awake, very sleepy, or fully asleep during 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. A nephrostomy tube will be inserted and pushed slowly through this area until it reaches your kidney. The tube will be secured in place 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.


  • You cannot make it to your procedure on time.
  • You have a fever.
  • You get a cold or the flu.
  • You have a skin infection or an infected wound near the area where your procedure will be done.
  • You have questions or concerns about your procedure.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • Your symptoms get worse.
  • You have sudden trouble breathing.


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.

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.

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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

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