Hydronephrosis causes

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Chandrakala Yannam, MD [2]Vindhya BellamKonda, M.B.B.S [3]


Hydronephrosis is commonly caused by conditions that obstruct urine outflow anywhere between kidneys and urethral opening. It is also caused by non obstructive conditions in some cases. Most common causes of hydronephrosis are renal calculi, ureteropelvic junction obstruction, vesicoureteric reflux, carcinoma involving urinary tract, prostate enlargement and cancer, blood clots retention and external compression from pelvic and abdominal tumors such as ovarian cysts, and retroperitoneal fibrosis.


Life-threatening Causes

  • Life-threatening causes include conditions which may result in death or permanent disability within 24 hours if left untreated. There are no life-threatening causes of hydronephrosis, however, complications resulting from untreated hydronephrosis are common.

Common Causes

  • Hydronephrosis is most commonly caused by urinary tract obstruction anywhere from kidneys to the urethral opening. It is also caused by non-obstructive conditions.
  • The following table summarizes the common causes of hydronephrosis.
Kidneys[1][2][3][4] Renal calculi

Carcinoma involving kidneys

Sloughed renal papilla due to renal papillary necrosis

Ureter[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18] Ureteral calculi

Retroperitoneal fibrosis

Blood clots retention

Transitional cell carcinoma of the ureter

Sloughed papilla and renal papillary necrosis obstructing the ureter


Ureteral strictures by traumaiatrogenic injuryradiation

Ureteropelvic junction obstruction

Ureterovesical junction obstruction


Extrinsic tumors and masses causing compression and hydronephrosis (eg, inguinal hernia, retroperitoneal lymph nodes, retroperitoneal tumors, prostate cancercervical and endometrial tumors, tuboovarian abscess and abdominal malignancies)

Tuberculosis (ureteritis cystica)

Bladder[19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28] Bladder cancer (eg, transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder)

Bladder calculi

Neurogenic bladder

Vesicoureteral reflux

Inflammation of the bladder (eg, radiation, endometriosis)

Bladder hypertrophy

Bladder-neck obstruction


Urethra[29][30][31] Urethral strictures (eg, Bacterial urethritis, Indwelling urinary catheter, prostate surgeries, cystoscopy)

Prostate enlargement (Benign prostatic hyperplasia and hypertrophy)

Urethral valves (Posterior urethral valves, and anterior urethral valves)

Less Common Causes

Less common causes of disease name include:


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