A nephrostomy tube is a drainage tube placed into the kidney to drain urine directly from the kidney. The word "nephrostomy" comes from two Latin root words for "kidney" (nephr) and "new opening" (stomy).
Normally, as urine is produced in the kidney, it drains downward through a tube called the ureter and is stored in the bladder until urination occurs. In some instances, when the urine is made in the kidney, it cannot reach the bladder or cannot be eliminated from the bladder. This obstruction of urine flow can be caused by stones, infection, a congenital malformation (an abnormality that a child has from birth), swelling after kidney surgery, or trauma.
A nephrostomy tube can be placed during a surgical procedure in the operating room by a surgeon or it may be placed in the Interventional Radiology Department by a radiologist. It may be done under general anesthesia or with conscious sedation. Your child will recover in the post anesthesia care unit (PACU) after the placement of the nephrostomy tube.
A nephrostomy tube is placed on a temporary basis only. It may remain in place for a few days, weeks or months. If it needs to stay for a relatively long period of time, a new one may be placed at intervals.
The nephrostomy tube should drain urine continuously when it is connected to a drainage bag. The tube can become clogged and cause urine not to drain. If this happens, the tube will need to be flushed through with a sterile antibiotic solution, sterile water, or sterile saline.