Blockage Of The Ureters – Symptoms

A blockage of the ureters – tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder – may not cause any symptoms and may allow the affected kidney to function normally, even though the kidney is not in its normal position. Many people do not discover they have this condition until they have tests for other reasons. Sometimes, a doctor may feel a lump in the abdomen during a routine examination. In other cases, the blockage may cause abdominal pain or urinary problems.

When a kidney is out of its normal position, urine drainage problems are common. Sometimes, urine can even flow backwards from the bladder to the kidney, a problem called vesicoureteral reflux. Abnormal urine flow can set the stage for many other problems and symptoms such as: 1

  • Infection. Normally, urine flow washes out bacteria and keeps them from growing in the kidneys and urinary tract. When a kidney is out of its normal position, urine can get trapped in the ureter or in the kidney itself. Urine that remains in the urinary tract gives bacteria the chance to grow and spread. Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include frequent or painful urination, back or abdominal pain, fever, and chills. The urine may be cloudy or have an unusual smell.
  • Stones. Urinary stones form from substances found in the urine, such as calcium and oxalate (a salty substance). Urine that stays too long in the urinary tract increases the risk that these substances will have time to form stones. Symptoms of urinary stones include extreme pain in the back, side, or pelvis; blood in the urine; fever or chills; vomiting; and burning during urination.
  • Kidney failure. If urine backs up all the way to the kidneys, damage to the kidneys can occur. As a result, the kidneys cannot filter waste and extra fluid from the blood. Symptoms of kidney failure include swelling in the legs or abdomen, feeling very tired, headaches, or nausea. If total kidney failure occurs, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant. Total kidney failure happens only when both kidneys are damaged. One ectopic (out of place) kidney, even when it is not functioning, won’t cause kidney failure.
  • Trauma. If the ectopic kidney is in the lower abdomen, or pelvis, it may be susceptible to injury from blunt trauma. People with an ectopic kidney who want to participate in body contact sports may want to wear protective gear.

Kidney Cancer – Symptoms

Often, kidney cancer doesn’t have early symptoms but see your doctor if you notice:

  • Blood in your urine
  • A lump in your abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain in your side
  • Loss of appetite

If cancer metastasizes (spreads) beyond the kidney, symptoms will depend on the organ involved. Shortness of breath or coughing up blood may occur when cancer is in the lung. Bone pain or a fracture may occur when cancer is in the bone. And, neurologic symptoms may occur when cancer is in the brain.

In some cases, kidney cancer causes what is called paraneoplastic syndromes. These syndromes occur in about 20 percent of patients with kidney cancer and can occur in any stage, including cancers confined to the kidney. Symptoms from paraneoplastic syndromes include weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, sweats and high blood pressure. In many cases, the paraneoplastic syndrome goes away after the cancer is removed.2

1. “Ectopic Kidney”, National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, , URL:
2. “Adult Conditions: Kidney Cancer”, American Urological Association Foundation, , URL:

While clinical studies support the effectiveness of the da Vinci® System when used in minimally invasive surgery, individual results may vary. Surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System may not be appropriate for every individual. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits.

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