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Injury - kidney and ureter

  • Definition

    Injury to the kidney and ureter is damage to these organs of the upper urinary tract.

    Alternative Names

    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

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    The kidneys are located in the flank (back of the upper abdomen at either side of the spinal column). They are deep in the abdomen and 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 well-padded for a reason -- they have a large blood supply. Injury can lead to severe bleeding.

    Kidneys may be injured by damage to the blood vessels that supply or drain them, including:

    • Aneurysm
    • Arterial blockage
    • Arteriovenous fistula
    • Renal vein thrombosis (clotting)
    • Trauma

    Kidney injuries may also be caused by:

    • Angiomyolipoma, a noncancerous tumor
    • Autoimmune disorders
    • Bladder outlet obstruction
    • Cancer of the kidney, pelvis, or colon
    • Diabetes, high blood pressure, or other medical conditions that affect the kidneys
    • Excess buildup of body waste products such as uric acid (which can occur with gout or treatment of bone marrow, lymph node, or other disorders)
    • Exposure to toxic substances such as lead, cleaning products, solvents, fuels, or long-term use of high-dose pain medications (analgesic nephropathy)
    • Inflammation caused by immune responses to medications, infection, or other disorders
    • Medical procedures such as kidney biopsy, or nephrostomy tube placement
    • Ureteropelvic junction obstruction
    • Ureteral obstruction

    The ureters are the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Uretral injuries may be caused by:

    • Complications from medical procedures
    • Diseases such as retroperitoneal fibrosis, retroperitoneal sarcomas, or cancers that spread to the lymph nodes near the ureters
    • Kidney stone disease
    • Radiation or chemotherapy
    • Trauma