Ureteropelvic junction (UPJ) obstruction is a blockage where the kidney attaches to a ureter.

This obstruction blocks the flow of urine out of the kidney. The urine build up may damage the kidney.

UPJ can be a congenital condition, which means it is present from birth. The condition can also be an abnormal blood vessel over the ureter or may be due to scar tissue, infection, earlier treatments for a blockage, or kidney stones.

Symptoms

UPJ may not cause any symptoms. Or, a person might experience:

  • Back or flank pain
  • Bloody urine (hematuria)
  • Lump in the abdomen (abdominal mass)
  • Kidney infection
  • Urinary tract infection, usually with fever
  • Vomiting

Diagnosis

To diagnose UPJ, your Ohio State urologist may rely on one or more tests, including:

  • A blood test to check for urea nitrogen
  • A urine test
  • Imaging such as ultrasound, X-ray or CT scan

Treatment

Procedures to correct this condition may include:

  • Endoscopic (retrograde) technique that uses a small instrument placed into the urethra to open the blockage
  • Percutaneous (antegrade) technique that involves a small surgical cut on the side of the body between the ribs and the hip
  • Pyeloplasty, which removes scar tissue from the blocked area and connects the healthy part of the kidney to the healthy ureter.
  • Open surgery and laparoscopy are available for those who have not had success with other procedures.
  • A tube called a stent may be placed to drain urine from the kidney until the surgical site heals. A nephrostomy tube, which is placed in the side of the body to drain urine, may also be needed for a short time after the surgery. This type of tube may also be used to treat a serious infection before surgery.
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