Injury to the kidney and ureter is damage to the organs of the upper urinary tract.
The kidneys are located in the flank (back of the upper abdomen at either side of the spine). They are protected by the spine, lower rib cage, and strong muscles of the back. This location protects the kidneys from many outside forces. The kidneys are also surrounded by a layer of fat that helps to cushion them.
The kidneys have a large blood supply, and injury can lead to severe bleeding. The many layers of padding help prevent kidney injury.
Kidneys may be injured by damage to the blood vessels that supply or drain them, including:
Kidney injuries may also be caused by:
The ureters are the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Ureteral injuries may be caused by:
Emergency symptoms may include:
Long-term (chronic) symptoms may include:
If only one kidney is affected and the other kidney is healthy, you may not have any symptoms.
The health care provider will examine you and ask about your medical history and symptoms. You will be asked about any recent illness and if you have come into contact with toxic substances.
The exam may show:
Tests that may be done include:
The goals are to treat emergency symptoms and prevent or treat complications. You may need to stay in a hospital.
Treatments for a kidney injury may include:
Sometimes, surgery is needed. This may include:
How well you do depends on the cause and severity of the injury.
Sometimes, the kidney starts working properly again. Sometimes, kidney failure occurs.
Complications may include:
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of an injury to the kidney or ureter, especially if you have a history of:
Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have decreased urine output after a kidney injury. This may be a symptom of kidney failure.
You can help prevent injury to the kidneys and ureter by taking these steps:
Kidney damage; Toxic injury of the kidney; Kidney injury; Traumatic injury of the kidney; Fractured kidney; Inflammatory injury of the kidney; Bruised kidney; Ureteral injury
Molitoris BA. Acute kidney injury. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 122.
Santucci RA, Doumanian LR. Upper urinary tract injury. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 42.
Updated by: Scott Miller, MD, urologist in private practice in Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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