Hydronephrosis is one of the most commonly diagnosed fetal anomalies and occurs when one or both of a baby’s kidneys become enlarged due to urine blockage.

Normally, urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through thin tubes called ureters. If your baby has restricted urine flow or urine reflux, a reversal of urine flow, their kidneys will begin to swell, resulting in this condition.

There are three stages of hydronephrosis:

  • Mild: kidney function is slightly impacted, but the hydronephrosis typically resolves on its own
  • Moderate: typically no impact on kidney function, hydronephrosis symptoms will not progress.
  • Severe: greater risk of decreased kidney function and risk of kidney damage

If your baby has been diagnosed with hydronephrosis, we understand the worry and anxiety you may have. Our leading team of specialists at the SSM Health Cardinal Glennon St. Louis Fetal Care Institute are uniquely equipped to help you and your baby. Working with a multidisciplinary team of fetal surgeons, pediatric doctors and nurses, we comprehensively monitor and treat this condition, using the safest techniques to care for your child before or after delivery

How Is Hydronephrosis Diagnosed and Handled During Pregnancy?

Hydronephrosis is detected by ultrasound around 20 weeks of pregnancy. If your doctor finds hydronephrosis on an ultrasound, repeat ultrasounds will be performed throughout your pregnancy. These ultrasounds help the Cardinal Glennon St. Louis Fetal Care Institute team monitor your baby’s growth, kidneys and amniotic fluid levels.

How Will Hydronephrosis Impact My Delivery?

Babies with hydronephrosis are typically born via a vaginal delivery. However, your unique situation is important in determining the best delivery plan.

What Can I Expect When My Baby Is Born With Hydronephrosis?

Hydronephrosis often heals on its own after a baby is born. In rare cases, surgery will be necessary to restore the flow of urine. Typically, babies born with hydronephrosis show no lasting effects of the condition.

An SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, pediatric urologists and pediatric nephrologists will help you determine the best course of treatment for your little one after delivery.

We understand that hydronephrosis can be a scary diagnosis. That’s why we’re available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 314-268-4037 or toll free at 877-SSM-FETL (877-776-3385).

While we can’t change the diagnosis, we can provide you expert care and support, helping your baby get the best start in life.

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