Sometimes prostate cancer can cause the growth of prostatic tissue over the ureteric orifices (the entry point into the bladder of the ureters or kidney drainage tubes). This growth can then prevent urine from draining into the bladder and can lead to the ureters becoming blocked and distended. This in turn can sometimes lead to urine in the ureters flowing back to the kidneys and causing them to become swollen (hydronephrosis). Hydronephrosis may stop the kidneys from functioning correctly and prevent them from filtering out unwanted substances that the body no longer needs. A build-up of these substances can then cause potentially serious problems in other parts of the body and in this situation a small drainage tube called a nephrostomy may be inserted directly into the kidney(s) to relieve the pressure.
A nephrostomy tube is a thin, plastic tube that is inserted through the skin on the back and into one or both of the kidneys. A nephrostomy tube is inserted into a kidney by a radiologist or X-ray specialist under a local anaesethic with the use of special X-ray equipment. Once inserted a urine collection bag is placed over the nephrostomy. Nephrostomies can be placed in both kidneys and allow urine to drain directly out of them which releases the pressure caused by the blockage. In time this allows the kidneys to recover and return to a normal function.
In some instances internal tubes called ureteric stents can be placed into the kidney and down the ureter via the nephrostomies. Once in place these stents will allow the ureters to recover and can then be removed. These type of stents can remain inside the body for 6- months after which time they can be removed or replaced during a minor operation.
For more information on nephrostomy tubes please see the following information from MacMillan Cancer Care
Last reviewed 04/06/2018. Next review 04/12/2018.
References available on request.