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Hydronephrosis in Pregnancy

Hydronephrosis in Pregnancy

Hydronephrosis is a condition in which the ureter is unable to pass urine, which causes problems in the kidney. Hydronephrosis in pregnancy is a very common condition as the increasing size of uterus puts pressure on the ureter. Let's find more about this condition, and its possible treatments.
Niharika Arya
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
The kidney helps in purifying the blood. It filters the blood by excreting all the waste products like ammonia and excess water in the form of urine. The urine from the kidney is passed to the ureter, which takes it to urinary bladder, from where it is excreted out of the body. The ureter is a tube which connects the kidney to the urinary bladder. Sometime, due to various reasons, the ureter gets blocked, which results in the accumulation of urine in the kidney, which then causes a lot of health complications. This condition is known as hydronephrosis. It is very commonly found amongst pregnant women.
Causes of Hydronephrosis During Pregnancy
There are two main causes of hydronephrosis which takes place during pregnancy. They are as follows.
  • One of the major reason behind hydronephrosis is the increasing size of the uterus. As the baby increases in size, the uterus also increases. This puts pressure on the ureter and it gets blocked. The blockage can be found in one or both the ureters. It is mostly seen in the right ureter, due to its positioning. Hydronephrosis usually takes place after around 20 weeks, as the uterus size increases to a great extent.
  • The second reason is the hormonal changes during pregnancy. Hormones like progesterone and estrogen increase at the time of pregnancy, which cause an increase in the blood flow and many other changes. This further causes blockage in the ureter.
Symptoms of Hydronephrosis During Pregnancy
The urine flows from the kidney at a very low pressure. Hence, when there is a blockage in the ureter, the urine flows back to the kidney, which results in dilation of the kidney. Following are some of the hydronephrosis symptoms, which are commonly found in pregnant women.
  • Pain is one of the most common symptom experienced. Women may experience intermittent pain in between the hips and ribs, which may sometimes become intense.
  • There may also be traces of blood in urine.
  • The woman will not be able to pass urine properly or will experience pain while urinating.
  • Swelling can be seen in the abdomen. If the hydronephrosis is unilateral, then the swelling can be seen only on one side.
  • Low blood pressure may also be observed.
  • Nausea, vomiting, fever, and urinary tract infection, may also be observed in some complicated situations.
Treatment for Hydronephrosis in Pregnancy
Hydronephrosis, if not taken care of in time, may also cause kidney failure, which can be life-threatening for the mother as well as the fetus. Hence, ignorance towards the symptoms may take you towards many complications. An ultrasound is the best diagnostic method for this condition. Once hydronephrosis is confirmed, the doctor may advice you about some treatments. But usually, treatments are avoided till the delivery is done. If the blockage is not very serious, then the doctor may advice you some precautions, and will wait till the baby is born. But if the condition is of a serious nature, and needs treatment immediately, then following are some of the treatments which can be advised.
  • If there is a chance of renal failure due to the hydronephrosis, then a ureteral catheter (flexible tube) may be inserted inside the ureter, which excretes the excess urine from the body. This is a simple procedure and can be done by giving local anesthesia.
  • In more serious cases, ureteral stenting is done. Ureter stenting involves the insertion of thin tube, which is used to treat the blockage.
  • Percutaneous drainage procedure can also be used, which includes the insertion of a thin needle, which drains out the excess urine.
  • If there is no way to treat the condition, then either the woman has to undergo a cesarean operation, or labor induction, to deliver the baby.
Drink plenty of water and fluids, which will help you to overcome this problem quickly. Take complete bed rest, but lie down on the side of the kidney, which is healthy. Follow all the instructions given by the doctor, and take care of yourself.