Nephrostomy Tube / Ureteral Stents
A nephrostomy tube and ureteral stents are medical interventions used to temporarily assist with urine drainage from the body.
Why Urine Drainage Interventions May Be Needed
Urine is created by the kidneys, then travels to the bladder through a duct called the ureter. These long, narrow ducts can occasionally become obstructed, causing urine to back up into the kidneys. A ureteral obstruction can occur in men, women, and children. It may affect one or both ureters. Seeking medical care for a ureteral blockage is important because it can cause a urinary tract infection (UTI) as well as quickly lead to irreversible kidney damage and acute kidney failure.
A ureteral obstruction may occur for a variety of reasons, including:
- Kidney stones
- Prostate cancer
- Blood clots
- Tissue growth, such as with endometriosis
- Other damage or swelling within the urinary tract
- Congenital anomalies, such as ureterocele (a ballooning at the end of the ureter) or the presence of a duplicate ureter (when two ureters are connected to the same kidney)
Signs and symptoms that may indicate a ureteral obstruction include:
- Pain in the abdomen or lower back
- Difficulty urinating
- Blood in the urine
- Unexplained decrease in the amount of urine passed
- Nausea and vomiting
Your doctor may order blood and urine tests. They may also conduct an ultrasound or bladder catheterization (in which a tiny catheter with a camera is inserted into the urethra – which carries urine from the bladder to outside the body – to better visualize your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra). Additional tests may also be ordered and performed.
Treating Ureteral Obstruction
The goal of treatment is to remove or bypass blockages in the ureter and drain the buildup of urine in the kidneys. This allows the kidneys time to return to normal functioning if possible, as well as time for an infection, if present, to clear. It also protects the affected kidney from further damage. Treatment methods to restore proper flow of urine through an obstructed ureter will depend on the cause of the blockage and whether infection, inflammation, or other complications are present.
Two common methods of allowing urine to successfully drain from the kidneys are the use of ureteral stents and a nephrostomy tube.
At Florida Endovascular and Interventional, we perform in-office procedures to place these devices in the ureter using the least invasive means necessary – allowing you to avoid surgery and hospitalization. Our nonsurgical approach also means you’ll have a faster post-procedure recovery and none of the scarring and post-op pain common with surgical methods. Patients are sedated for both procedures, allowing you to remain comfortable throughout your time with us.
This type of stent is a thin, flexible tube placed inside the ureter to help keep it open wide and accommodate the flow of urine from kidneys to bladder. Imaging guidance is used to advance a very small needle and guidewire into place within the ureter. The needle and guidewire are removed, and the stent (tube) is inserted in its place. It is typically left in place for a few days, or even a few months, depending on a patient’s needs.
A nephrostomy tube is a catheter inserted through the skin at your lower back and into the affected kidney, under real-time imaging guidance. This method effectively bypasses the obstruction, allowing urine to exit the kidney through the catheter (nephrostomy tube) and into an external drainage bag. If only one kidney was affected, you can still expect to have to urinate in the usual fashion to eliminate the urine produced by the unaffected kidney.
A nephrostomy tube may be left in place for a few months, at which point it can be removed without having to undergo another sedated procedure. If it is needed longer than that, it may need to be replaced.
Nonsurgical Ureteral Obstruction Treatment in South Florida
The interventional radiologists at Florida Endovascular and Interventional are specially trained and experienced at the placement of both ureteral stents and nephrostomy tubes.
Should you require urine drainage or diversion as a result of a ureteral obstruction, we can help. We also regularly perform these quick, in-office procedures immediately prior to a patient’s planned procedure to remove kidney stones, for added convenience for the patient and their physician. We have four convenient South Florida locations to better serve you.
Contact us to find out more about our nonsurgical procedures to place nephrostomy tubes or ureteral stents by calling Florida Endovascular and Interventional at (786) 534-2555. You can also request an appointment now.