Kidney Obstruction: Causes and Treatment Options

Kidneys play a vital role in overall health and well being. The roles of the kidneys are diverse, including the job of removing waste from the body by converting it into urine and balancing the ratios of salt and other substances in the blood.

When kidneys become obstructed, they are no longer able to function in their critical roles, which can lead to pain from the obstruction itself, kidney infections, and other serious health consequences.

Causes of Kidney Obstructions

Kidney stones are the most common obstruction, although obstructions can also occur as a result of scar tissue; a congenital narrowing in the location where the ureter joins the kidney (called ureteropelvic junction, or UPJ); or ureteral strictures.

A CT scan or nuclear renal scan is often required to determine the precise cause and location of a kidney obstruction.

Treating Kidney Obstructions

Prevention is obviously the best cure for most medical conditions, including kidney obstructions. To help prevent kidney damage[SM1] , you can take the following steps:

  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Get plenty of exercise
  • Manage health conditions that could exacerbate kidney health, such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol
  • Quit smoking

You should also consult with a physician regarding any prescription or over-the-counter medications, in case some may be harder on your kidneys than others, and before making the move to a high-protein diet.

Treatment options vary depending on the type of obstruction and its location. Quick-fix solutions, such as stretching the opening with a balloon or cutting scar tissue, often provide limited benefit, compromise safety and can make it more difficult to repair damage in the future.

UPJ obstruction is typically dealt with by surgically removing less than one inch from the upper portion of the ureter and then sewing the remaining portion of the ureter to the kidney. In the past, this procedure was much more invasive. Today, the surgery can be performed as a laparoscopic procedure, minimizing risks and recovery time while improving surgical precision.

Ureteral strictures are treated through laparoscopic ureteral reimplantation — a laparoscopic procedure that reroutes the ureter to a different portion of the urinary bladder.

Modern treatments for kidney obstruction can be carried out through laparoscopic surgery. This greatly reduces the risks that patients face from surgery, as well as the amount of rest required before resuming normal activities, while providing effective treatment options to patients.

If you have any questions about the causes and treatment of kidney obstructions, contact us here or call us at (404) 705-5201.

 [SM1]These do not necessarily prevent the obstruction, but rather the damage from the obstruction.