A ureteral obstruction refers to a blockage in one or both tubes responsible for carrying urine from the kidneys to the bladder. These tubes are known as ureters. An experienced urologist, Cletus Georges, mentions that this condition is common and severe complications associated with it are rare if the problem is treated in time. While the symptoms of ureteral obstruction start with pain, infection, and fever, it can escalate to loss of kidney function and sepsis, if not properly treated and managed.
The ureteral obstruction prevents urine from moving into the bladder and out of the body. If this blockage is not treated in time, then urine may back up and cause damage to the kidneys. Cletus Georges mentions that such a condition can not only cause pain, but also put the patient at the risk of infection. Blood in the urine, repeated urinary tract infections and high blood pressure (hypertension) are also some of the symptoms of this condition.
Diverse types of ureteral obstructions tend to have different causes. Some of them are congenital or present from birth as well. Here are some of the key causes of ureteral obstruction underlined by Cletus Georges:
- Duplication of the ureter: This is a common condition that is present from birth in many people. Under this situation, two ureters form on the same kidney. The second ureter might be normal or only partially developed. In case either of them does not function in a proper manner, urine can back up into the kidney and cause damage.
- Abnormal connection between the ureter and kidney: Such an abnormal connection tends to block the urine flow, thereby causing the kidney to swell and eventually stop working. This abnormality can be congenital or may even develop with typical childhood growth. It usually happens due to an injury or scarring. In rare cases, this abnormal connection may even develop from a tumor.
- Ureterocele: In case the ureter is too narrow and does not allow urine to flow normally, a small budge may develop in the ureter, ideally in the section closest to the bladder. This might block urine flow and causes it to back up into the kidney, increasing the risk of kidney damage.
- Retroperitoneal fibrosis: This is a pretty rare disorder that develops when fibrous tissue grows in the area behind the abdomen. They might grow as a result of taking particular medications or even cancer. The fibers encircle and block the ureters, thereby causing urine to back up into the kidneys.
People may suffer from the blocked ureter. Patients with kidney stones are some of the most common ones who develop this condition. These blockages can happen in both men and women. Older men having enlarged prostates might also be affected by it. In babies and children, a birth defect that affects their urinary tract leads to such an obstruction. Drinking plenty of water and limiting sodium (salt) intake can help prevent ureter obstruction.