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Treatment / Nephrostomy Tube

Nephrostomy Tube Placement

You may need a nephrostomy tube when something is blocking the normal path that your urine takes to leave your body. Urine from your kidneys passes through thin, narrow tubes called ureters. Your ureters are connected to your bladder where urine is stored for a time before you urinate. When your ureters become blocked by stones or blood clots, urine stays in your kidneys and will cause problems. A nephrostomy tube is put in to drain your urine directly from your kidneys.

Am I a Candidate for Percutaneous Nephrostomy?

When you are referred to IVC for placement of a nephrostomy tube, your vascular and interventional radiologist will review your medical history and any diagnostic testing, which could include ultrasound, CT or MRI. Different types of ureteral obstruction have different causes, some of them present at birth (congenital) and some are the result of other conditions.

Ureteral obstruction might have no signs or symptoms. Signs and symptoms depend on where the obstruction occurs, whether it is partial or complete, how quickly it develops, and whether it affects one or both kidneys.

Symptoms can include:

  • Pain
  • Changes in the amount of urine produced
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Repeated urinary tract infections
  • High blood pressure

What to Expect from the Procedure

The interventional radiologist will use x-rays and/or ultrasound to locate your kidney and a needle will be inserted through your skin into the kidneys. A catheter will be inserted into the kidney and will be left in place until a ureteral stent can be placed or the ureteral blockage is resolved. Commonly, the nephrostomy catheter is connected to an external bag that collects urine. You will be instructed to empty and care for the drainage bag prior to going home.


This procedure is often done on an outpatient basis and typically takes one hour. After your nephrostomy tube placement you will rest in a recovery area for a while before you are sent home. You should be able to resume your normal activities within a few days.

Care Instructions for your Nephrostomy Tube and Drainage Bag

If your tube is connected to a drainage bag, urine made by the kidney will drain into the bag. If your other kidney is working, you will urinate in the usual manner. Do not be alarmed if you urinate less or not at all.

Extension tubing and drainage bag will be changed when you come to the hospital for a routine change. You may need to change these before your next clinic visit if the bag or tubing has a foul odor or a lot of build up inside.

If your nephrostomy tube is clamped no urine will drain from the tube. There will be no drainage bag on your tube. Urine made by your kidney will drain through the ureters and down into your bladder and will leave your body when you urinate.

You should call the doctor if you experience any of the below:

  • Redness or swelling at the site
  • A temperature over 100.5F for two reading taken 4 hours apart
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Pain at the tube site or in your side
  • Decreased urine output from your drainage bag
  • Cloudy urine with a sediment
  • Your stitches come out or break

If you have questions regarding nephrostomy tube placement call IVC today at 503-612-0498. You can also read our brochure on Kidneys and Dialysis.

* This information about Nephrostomy Tubes was reviewed by Dr. Jason R. Bauer. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us using the form below.

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We are announcing that Interventional and Vascular Consultants will be closing as of March 10, 2023.

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Please know that we have greatly valued our relationship with you and wish you the best.


Jason Bauer, MD RVT
Michael Pfister, MD RVT

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