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Hydronephrosis Symptoms & Diagnosis


Hydronephrosis may or may not cause any symptoms. If symptoms occur, they may include:

  • Pain in the back, waist, lower abdomen, or groin
  • Persistent pain with urination or urinary frequency (from urinary tract infections)
  • Increased urge to urinate or urinary incontinence
  • Dribbling after urination
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unexplained itching


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam, which may involve examination of the pelvis or rectum to feel for blockages. You will likely be referred to a urologist and/or nephrologist for further diagnosis and treatment.

Tests may include:

  • Urine tests—to check for blood, protein, bacteria, or other evidence of damage to the kidneys
  • Blood tests—to check for evidence of damage to the kidneys
  • Bladder catheterization—a thin tube, called a catheter, inserted into the bladder to try to drain it
  • Abdominal ultrasound —a test that uses sound waves to examine the structures in the abdomen (in this case the kidneys, ureters, and bladder)
  • Intravenous urogram (or pyelogram)—an x-ray test that uses contrast dye to assess the structure and function of the kidneys, bladder, and ureters (may not be used if kidneys are damaged)
  • Computed tomography angiography (CTA) —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the kidneys, bladder, and ureters
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan) —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the kidneys, bladder, and ureters
  • Cystoscopy —a thin, lighted tube inserted through the urethra and into the bladder to examine the lining
  • Voiding cystourethrogram—x-rays of the bladder and urethra taken during urination after contrast dye is placed in the bladder

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