Obstructive Uropathy

Also known as: urinary obstruction, acute obstructive uropathy.

What is obstructive uropathy?

Obstructive uropathy is a condition in which there is a blockage of the urine flow in the tube (ureter) that carries urine between the kidneys and the bladder, or anywhere to the external urethral meatus (the opening at the tip of the penis).

It can affect one or both kidneys, occur acutely (suddenly) or over a longer time, and depending on the site of the obstruction, the backing up of the urine may result in progressive injury (hydronephrosis) to the kidney involved.

What causes obstructive uropathy?

Causes may be congenital (occurring before birth) or acquired. Congenital causes include obstructions at a number of sites (like pelvi-ureteric junction, posterior urethral valves, a tight foreskin or smaller than normal penile opening), abnormalities of the nerves to the bladder and others.

Acquired causes include bladder or kidney stones, or scar tissue from injury or infections obstructing urine flow.

What are the symptoms of obstructive uropathy?

Symptoms depend on whether the obstruction is acute or develops over time, and whether one or both kidneys are affected.

Symptoms may include:

  • mild to severe pain on one or both sides/back
  • fever
  • nausea or vomiting
  • swelling (edema)
  • weight gain
  • there may be a decrease in the amount of urine or the strength of its flow (with dribbling),
  • a need to pass urine more often
  • blood in the urine

What are obstructive uropathy care options?

Stents, tubes or catheters can help bypass the blockage and relieve urine flow. Surgery is often needed to permanently correct the problem.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: August 03, 2022 01:59 PM


The Division of Nephrology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital treats kidney disorders and provides comprehensive evaluation of renal functions, including kidney biopsies.

Learn More