You may need a nephrostomy if something is blocking the normal flow of urine from one or both of your kidneys to your bladder. This could be caused by kidney stones, clots, infections, leaks or tumours (cancer). If your urine gets blocked, it will cause your kidney to enlarge (hydronephrosis) and prevent it from working effectively. Left untreated this could lead to long-term damage to both your kidneys and your urinary system.
To alleviate this an artificial opening is created between the kidney and the skin and a nephrostomy tube is inserted, normally by a radiologist using ultrasound guidance. Don’t worry you will be sedated, and the tube will usually be stitched in place to prevent it falling out and it will also be secured to the skin with a small fixation device.
The thin, flexible, plastic tube allows urine to be diverted directly from the kidney to an external collection system. This can either be a temporary or permanent solution and depending on your condition, you may have a single (on one side only) or bilateral (on both sides) nephrostomy.
A proven solution
It’s worth stressing that a nephrostomy is usually a safe and effective way of draining urine from your kidney to:
- Reduce the risk of your kidney being damaged
- Avoid surgery, at least in the first instance
- Give your doctor time to find out why the ureter is blocked and to treat the problem
What happens afterwards
Once fitted, your nephrostomy tube/catheter will be connected to a urine collection system – usually a sterile bag – which will drain urine away from your body. There are a number of options available to you and your nurse will be able to advise you on these and help to arrange further supplies on prescription when you go home.
Above all you will want to feel secure and comfortable and have some element of privacy and discretion, that’s why at Manfred Sauer we designed the Nephsys Nephrostomy Drainage System, this connects directly to the tube which you can wear around the waist or on the upper leg using a leg bag strap, but there are other options too.
- A pouch fitted directly to your skin which contains your nephrostomy catheter.
- A leg bag – these come with various tube lengths and capacities and sometimes an adaptor will be required to fit them. (The adaptors are not available on prescription).
Will I have to wear it forever?
The length of time you need to keep your nephrostomy in place will depend upon the reason it was fitted. It could be permanent, or it may be temporary while you wait to have a stent inserted or for your kidney function to improve. Your nurse/doctor will be able to discuss this with you. If your nephrostomy does turn out to be permanent, the tube from your kidney will normally be changed every three months, but this will be confirmed by your specialist and arranged accordingly.
How can we help?
For more information, advice or help, please get in touch. Alternatively download our Nephrostomy Passport – the essential paperwork you need for medical appointments or when travelling. Coming soon is a new brochure entitled “The care and management of your nephrostomy system”. This handy guide was written by our very own Urology Specialist Nurse Carol Hutchings RGN. Once it’s available we will let you have the link so you can read or download a copy.