Hydronephrosis (water on the kidney) is a condition of blockage of the outflow of urine from a kidney, leading to dilation of the urinary collecting system. The most common site of blockage is the ureteropelvic junction (UPJ), where a muscular funnel-like structure channels urine from the kidney's urine collection system (the pelvis) into the ureter (the urine carrying tube that leads to the bladder). The degree of blockage can vary from intermittent and mild to persistent and severe. Blockage may cause urinary infections, kidney stone formation, and even pain. Ultimately, the backpressure on the kidney tissue causes progressive damage and ultimately can lead to a completely non-functioning kidney.

Hydronephrosis is often diagnosed on prenatal ultrasound examinations. Ultrasound examination after urinary tract infection is another common path to the discovery of hydronephrosis. If the kidney is still functional when hydronephrosis is detected, the UPJ abnormality can be repaired. However, if the blockage has already destroyed too much kidney function the organ is removed to avoid chronic infection.

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