Nephrostomy is a hospital procedure in which a plastic tube (catheter) is placed through the skin to drain urine from the kidney. An interventional radiologist uses x-ray imaging to help guide the catheter into the kidney. The procedure replaces the need for open surgery. The most common reason for a nephrostomy is a blocked ureter. The kidney makes urine, which drains through the ureter to the bladder before exiting the body. Ureter blockage usually but not always causes pain and fever. If the urine cannot drain out, the kidney may stop working. Nephrostomy also is indicated in cases of a hole in the ureter or bladder that allows urine to leak into the body. A third reason for nephrostomy is to help prepare the body for other urological procedures, such as kidney stone removal. Nephrostomy drainage involves placement of a needle into the kidney, a guide wire farther into the kidney, and of the drainage catheter. Before the procedure, patients receive antibiotics intravenously as well as a local anesthetic and conscious sedation. Expect soreness for seven to 10 days afterwards. Nephrostomy drainage is safe, but the two most frequent complications are bleeding and infection, which this is why patients are monitored in-hospital after catheterization.

Interventional radiology is a medical specialty that uses minimally invasive techniques to diagnose and treat a wide range of health problems, and it is an integral part of comprehensive patient care. The UAB Medicine interventional radiology team is a dedicated group of skilled, innovative health care professionals who are committed to providing the highest quality of care to our patients.

The group uses the latest and most advanced technology and imaging methods, including fluoroscopy, ultrasound, and CT scans, to treat tumors as well as peripheral arterial, venous, urologic, and hepatobiliary diseases. Each of our five dedicated angiography suites has the full range of imaging technology needed for complex procedures, along with the latest in patient monitoring and documentation systems. Because UAB Medicine is an academic health center, patients may be offered participation in clinical research trials, which can provide access to new techniques and treatments that are not available elsewhere in the area.


UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials for Nephrostomy. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information on clinical trials at

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