What is obstructive uropathy?

Obstructive uropathy is when your urine can’t flow (either partially or completely) through your ureter, bladder, or urethra due to some type of obstruction. Instead of flowing from your kidneys to your bladder, urine flows backward, or refluxes, into your kidneys.

The ureters are two tubes that carry urine from each of your kidneys to your bladder. Obstructive uropathy can cause swelling and other damage to one or both of your kidneys.

This condition can affect men and women of any age. It can also be a problem for an unborn child during pregnancy.

Causes of obstructive uropathy

Obstructive uropathy can occur due to a variety of factors. Compression can lead to damage to your kidneys and ureters.

Temporary or permanent blockages in your ureter or urethra, through which urine exits your body, can result from:

  • injuries such as a pelvic fracture
  • tumor mass that spreads to your kidneys, bladder, uterus, or colon
  • diseases of the digestive tract
  • kidney stones trapped in your ureter
  • blood clots

Nervous system disorders can also cause obstructive uropathy. This occurs when the nerves responsible for bladder control don’t function properly. The use of neurogenic drugs to control an overactive bladder can also cause obstructive uropathy in some cases.

An enlarged prostate is a frequent cause of obstructive uropathy in men. Pregnant women may also experience a reversed urine flow due to the additional weight of the fetus pressing down on their bladder. However, pregnancy-induced uropathy is very rare.

Symptoms of obstructive uropathy

The onset of obstructive uropathy can be very quick and acute, or slow and progressive. You’ll feel pain in your midsection on one or both sides of your body. The level and location of pain varies from person to person and depends on whether one or both kidneys are involved.

Fever, nausea, and vomiting are also common symptoms of obstructive uropathy. You may experience swelling or tenderness in the kidneys as urine flows backward into your organs.

A change in your urinary habits can indicate a blockage in your ureters. Symptoms to look for include:

  • difficulty passing urine
  • a slowed stream, sometimes described as a “dribble”
  • a frequent urge to urinate, especially at night (nocturia)
  • the feeling that your bladder isn’t empty
  • decreased urine output
  • blood in your urine

You may have a decrease in the amount of urine you expel if just one of your kidneys is blocked. Usually, both kidneys need to be blocked to impact urine output.



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