Medical Q&As

Hydronephrosis - more information?

Our 10 month old son has been diagnosed with hydronephrosis as a result of a serious congenital abnormality of the kidneys and ureters. Where can we find best information relating to his condition?

Hydronephrosis is the name given for a condition where the kidney becomes swollen and distended due to back pressure from a build up of urine. The condition can occur in one or both kidneys. The term is not a disease label in itself but rather describes a complication of an underlying disease. There are several causes of hydronephrosis but it is often due to a blockage in the ureter at the point where it joins the kidney. This blockage then delays emptying of urine from the kidney, which in turn causes the kidney to swell up. Hydronephrosis can be mild, moderate or severe. In the past many children with hydronephrosis were treated surgically but today surgery is no longer considered to be the appropriate treatment in all cases. Management very much depends on ongoing observation of renal function and intervening only when renal function deteriorates. It is common practice for all such children to be treated with low dose antibiotics on an ongoing basis in order to prevent infection. Infection in a hydronephrotic kidney could lead to further disimprovement in renal function. I have been unable to find a support group anywhere for hydronephrosis, which is probably not surprising since the term is a form of umbrella label rather than a discrete disease label. Perhaps the Irish Kidney Association might be able to advise you further on this matter. Their website is located at: www.ika.ie.