Ureteral obstruction is a blockage in one or both of your ureters. Ureters are what transports urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Ureteral obstruction is a fairly common condition but can become extremely painful and even life-threatening if not treated.

Some of the symptoms associated with ureteral obstruction are

The pain can range from discomfort the extremely painful, some patients may experience nausea or vomiting and fever and chills.

There are several reasons that can cause ureteral obstruction such as:

  • Pregnancy
  • Endometriosis – tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
  • Ureteral stones – kidney stones that have travelled into the ureter from the kidney
  • Genetic and congenital disorders such as ureteropelvic junction obstruction and duplication of the ureter
  • Long term swelling
  • Tumours

Diagnosing a ureteral obstruction

To diagnose ureteral obstruction you doctor will have an initial consultation with you, talk through your symptoms and then you may be offered blood or urine tests to check for any infection or creatinine which can show if your kidneys are healthy. Other tests such as ultrasounds, CT and MRI.

You may need further investigations such as cystoscopy which is a small thin tube with a camera on the end, that is inserted into your urethra and bladder allowing the doctor to see inside.

Treating a ureteral obstruction

To treat a ureteral obstruction is to remove the blockage in your ureters and ultimately relieve any pain and discomfort and repair the damage caused.

Your doctor may want to drain the body of urine to temporarily relieve the pain caused by the blockage. Procedures such as a catheter which is a thin tube placed inside the urethra that connects to the bladder and drains urine to an external bag. A ureteral stent may also be placed inside your ureter to keep it open. A percutaneous nephrostomy may also be offered, this procedure subsequently drains urine direct from the kidneys by a tube inserted through your back.

Once your body has been drained of urine, your doctor will be able to assess the best approach on how to treat your ureteral obstruction. Some treatment options include:

Laparoscopic surgery – a minimally invasive procedure where your surgeon will insert a small thin tube with a camera to see inside your body followed by other instruments that will be able to remove the blockage.

Endoscopic surgery –  a minimally invasive procedure performed by a surgeon who inserts a long flexible tube through the urethra and into the bladder with a camera and light on the end to see inside the urinary tract and use extra instruments to assess and remove any blockage caused.

Your surgeon will talk you through the most appropriate procedure for you and answer any questions you may have.

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.