Site Map

UPJ obstruction

Ureteropelvic junction obstruction; UP junction obstruction; Obstruction of the ureteropelvic junction

Ureteropelvic junction (UPJ) obstruction is a blockage at the point where part of the kidney attaches to one of the tubes to the bladder (ureters). This blocks the flow of urine out of the kidney.

Images

Kidney anatomy

I Would Like to Learn About:

Causes

UPJ obstruction mostly occurs in children. It often happens when a baby is still growing in the womb. This is called a congenital condition (present from birth).

The blockage is caused when there is:

As a result, urine builds up and damages kidney.

In older children and adults, the problem may be due to scar tissue, infection, earlier treatments for a blockage, or kidney stones.

UPJ obstruction is the most common cause of urinary blockages in children. It is now commonly found before birth with ultrasound tests. In some cases, the condition may not show up until after birth. Surgery may be needed early in life if the problem is severe. Most of the time, surgery is not needed until later. Some cases do not require surgery at all.

Symptoms

There may not be any symptoms. When symptoms occur, they may include:

Exams and Tests

An ultrasound during pregnancy may show kidney problems in the unborn baby.

Tests after birth may include:

Treatment

Surgery to correct the blockage allows urine to flow normally. Most of the time, open (invasive) surgery is performed in infants. Adults may be treated with less-invasive procedures. These procedures involve much smaller surgical cuts than open surgery, and may include:

Laparoscopy has also been used to treat UPJ obstruction in children and adults who have not had success with other procedures.

A tube called a stent may be placed to drain urine from the kidney until the surgery 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 bad infection before surgery.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Detecting and treating the problem early can help prevent future kidney damage. UPJ obstruction diagnosed before birth or early after birth may actually improve on its own.

Most children do well and have no long-term problems. Serious damage may occur in people who are diagnosed later in life.

Long-term outcomes are good with current treatments. Pyeloplasty has the best long-term success.

Possible Complications

If untreated, UPJ obstruction can lead to permanent loss of kidney function (kidney failure).

Kidney stones or infection may occur in the affected kidney, even after treatment.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call the health care provider if your infant has:

Related Information

Ultrasound pregnancy
Renal
Hydronephrosis of one kidney
Abdominal mass
Urinary tract infection - adults
Fever
Urine - bloody
Acute kidney failure

References

Elder JS. Obstruction of the urinary tract. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 555.

Frøkiaer J. Urinary tract obstruction. In: Skorecki K, Chertow GM, Marsden PA, Taal MW, Yu ASL, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 38.

Meldrum KK. Pathophysiology of urinary tract obstruction. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 48.

Nakada SY, Best SL. Management of upper urinary tract obstruction. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 49.

Stephany HA, Ost MC. Urologic disorders. In: Zitelli BJ, McIntire SC, Nowalk AJ, eds. Zitelli and Davis' Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 15.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 4/2/2019  

Reviewed By: Sovrin M. Shah, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Urology, The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2019 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.