Uretheral obstruction is a condition in which the one or both of the tubes (ureters) that lead from the kidneys to the bladder become blocked. Symptoms may include pain, urinary tract infection and renal damage. Urethral obstruction can affect men and women of any age and can be a problem for an unborn child during pregnancy.

The urine flow reverses direction and instead of flowing to the bladder, it moves back into the kidneys. Urethral obstruction can cause swelling and other damage to one or both of the kidneys.

Treatment options for urethral obstruction typically includes surgery or stent placement.



Common signs and symptoms of urethral obstruction include the following:

  • Fever
  • Infection
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Mild to severe pain in the side of the body and the back
  • Weight gain or swelling
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent urge to urinate (especially at night)
  • Decreased urine output



Urethral obstruction occurs when the urine cannot pass through a ureter (the tube that carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder). It can be caused by a variety of factors. Temporary or permanent blockages in the ureter can result from:

  • Pressure to the kidneys in the abdominal cavity
  • Injuries to the pelvic area
  • Digestive tract diseases
  • Kidney stones
  • Bladder stones
  • Blood clots
  • Colon cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Bladder or ureteral cancer
  • Certain nervous system disorders
  • An enlarged prostate
  • Scarring of the urinary channel

If ureteral obstructions are associated with an underlying problem such as an infection, antibiotic treatment is recommended.


Risk factors

Factors that can increase the risk of ureteral obstruction include the following:

  • Older age
  • Being Male



Possible complications that can arise from ureteral obstruction include the following:

  • Loss of kidney function
  • Sepsis
  • Fistula formation
  • Bladder dysfunction
  • Severe pain
  • Death



The main focus on treating urethral obstruction is removing the obstruction from the blocked ureters in order to prevent serious complications from occurring. Treatment options can include:

·         Percutaneous nephrostomy: A procedure that involves the insertion of a tube through the back to drain the kidney directly.

·         Catheterization: A procedure that involves the insertion of a tube (catheter) through the urethra to connect the bladder to an external drainage bag.

Surgical procedures to correct ureteral obstruction include:

  • Endoscopic surgery: A surgical procedure that involves inserting a lighted scope into the damaged or blocked part of the ureter in order to open blocked areas and provide short term relief of symptoms.
  • Ureterolysis: A surgical procedure that exposes the ureter and frees it from abnormal fibrous or scar tissues.
  • Pyeloplasty: A surgical procedure that involves repairing any damage to the ureter and inserting a hollow tube (stent) to keep it open.  
  • Partial nephrectomy: A surgical procedure that involves removing any damaged areas of the kidney caused by urethral obstruction.
  • Ureterectomy: A surgical procedure that involves removing all or part of a ureter, reconstructing the urinary tract by lowering the kidney and stretching the bladder up or replacing the ureter using other body tissue.
  • Ureteral reimplantation: A surgical procedure that involves taking out a section of the ureter, reconnecting the healthy sections to each other and reattaching them to the bladder.  
  • Transureteroureterostomy: A surgical procedure that involves joining one ureter to another in order to improve renal function.