Percutaneous Nephrostomy

Percutaneous nephrostomy, is a procedure that is performed to drain urine from a kidney. It is often performed when a ureter is blocked and urine cannot leave the kidneys as it normally does. A percutaneous nephrostomy allows the kidney to function properly and protects it from further damage. It also helps to clear any infection.

Candidates for Percutaneous Nephrostomy

Candidates for percutaneous nephrostomy may have kidney stones that are blocking the ureter or bladder. In addition, individuals that may require a percutaneous nephrostomy may include those who have:

  • Damage to the bladder or ureter
  • Blockage in the ureter
  • Urethral stricture
  • Tumors causing blockage

A percutaneous nephrostomy may also be perfomed to to evaluate kidney or ureter function.

The Percutaneous Nephrostomy Procedure

During the percutaneous nephrostomy procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the patient's back and inserts a tube directly into the kidney. The doctor is aided by X-rays and ultrasound guidance during the surgery. Contrast dye is injected into the patient so that the surgeon can be precise in positioning the drain for urine collection. An external catheter is then attached to temporarily allow drainage of the kidney into a small bag. Once the stent is confirmed to be functioning adequately, the nephrostomy catheter may be removed. The bag into which the urine drains is small enough to be hidden under clothing and will not be noticeable.

Risks of a Percutaneous Nephrostomy

While a percutaneous nephrostomy is considered a safe procedure, there are certain risks associated with any operation. Risks may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Damage to adjacent organs
  • Breathing problems
  • Loss of kidney function

As with any type of surgery, there is also a risk of adverse reactions to anesthesia or medications associated with the procedure.

Recovery from a Percutaneous Nephrostomy

The patient is hospitalized for a few days following a percutaneous nephrostomy. The urine draining from the nephrostomy tube may contain blood and the catheter is monitored to make sure that the urine drains out of it freely. Patients commonly experience pain and soreness in the incision area and in the deeper tissues of kidney, which may be relieved by pain medication. The patient is instructed to rest and to avoid sudden jerky movements and strenuous activity for at least 2 weeks or until the nephrostomy tube is removed.

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