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How long can a catheter stay in the kidney?

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Placing a catheter in the kidney is a procedure known as a nephrostomy. It is done to remove retained urine or stones from the kidney.

How long the catheter stays in the kidney will depend on the cause for which it was placed. For example, it will be a short time for stone extraction, but a catheter may be required permanently in case of severe obstruction. In the latter case, the probe will be changed according to the medical indications and needs of the patient.

If you want to know more about how long can a catheter be in the kidney? We invite you to read this article by FastlyHeal.

What is a renal catheter?

Placing a catheter in the kidney is a procedure known as a nephrostomy. The catheter is a petite, flexible tube inserted from the back or the side.

Nephrostomy is a procedure that is performed under local anesthesia through the skin (percutaneous) and does not modify kidney function. The renal catheter has essentially one of the following intentions:

  • Draining urine directly from the kidney (deviation from the ordinary course of urine).
  • Remove kidney stones (in which case it is called nephrolithotomy).

We recommend the Percutaneous article Nephrostomy: Care and Complications for more information on nephrostomy.

Why is a catheter placed in the kidney?

Nephrostomy is usually done for the following reasons:

  • A blockage prevents you from urinating normally.
  • Urine is not excreted but passes into the body.
  • Urine collects in the kidney and becomes infected.
  • A huge kidney stone damages the kidney or generates repeated infections.
  • Calculus develops so much pain that it cannot be alleviated with the usual treatments.

The catheter’s time in the kidney will depend on each cause for its treatment.

How is a kidney catheter placed?

The procedure by which a catheter is placed in the kidney is performed by a specialist doctor and will differ according to the intention.

If it is done only to extract urine (nephrostomy), it is as follows:

  • The patient must be lying on his abdomen.
  • The area where you will work is cleaned.
  • Local anesthesia (usually lidocaine) is placed at the puncture site.
  • A needle is put through the skin toward the kidney.
  • The tube or catheter is passed through the needle to reach the kidney. At that time, you may experience some discomfort or pressure.

During nephrolithotomy, that is, when trying to remove stones, the procedure changes:

  • The anesthesia, in that case, will be general.
  • With the patient face down, the area is cleaned.
  • An incision is made in the skin area near the affected kidney (on the back).
  • A probe is placed, and the area is dilated to work with the necessary instruments to remove the stones.
  • A tube is left in the ureter. The ureter is the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder. This is done so that the kidney can heal.

A urine collection bag is placed at the end of the catheter in both cases.

How long does the catheter have to be in the kidney?

After the procedure, the person who has been operated on must remain admitted for control, generally for 24 hours. X-rays will be done to see if the catheter remains in a good position.

The permanence of the tube and, therefore, the answer to how long a catheter can be in the kidney will depend on the reason for which it was placed:

If the procedure were performed due to kidney stones, X-rays would be taken to see if these have been completely removed. If there are no more stones and the kidney heals as expected, the tube can be removed.

In case the catheter has been placed due to an obstruction in the urine outlet, the catheter must remain for a longer time. The length of time a catheter can stay in the kidney will be until the cause of the blockage is resolved.

There are cases in which the obstruction to the flow of urine cannot be solved, in which case the nephrostomy is definitive. The only way for the urine to leave the body is through the catheter.

In this case, the tube placed is thicker, and it may be necessary to change it. The catheter can remain for about three months, but this is highly variable depending on:

  • The type of catheter used (such as a double j catheter).
  • The need of the patient.
  • The disease for which it is placed.
  • Medical indications.

What care does a nephrostomy require?

Kidney catheterization involves direct contact between the kidney and the outside, which is why certain precautions must be taken in its daily care and throughout the catheter in the kidney:

  • Whoever touches the bag or drains urine should wash their hands very well.
  • Every day the cleaning of the stoma (an opening that surrounds the catheter) and the exchange of the bag are required.
  • The bag must be well adhered to the skin to prevent leakage.
  • The skin where the collection bag adheres must be healthy. To do this, you must be very careful and follow the professional’s instructions in case of irritation. Different ointments can be applied to prevent injury.
  • The diet must be healthy. It is the way for any health problem causing urinary obstruction or stone formation to progress favorably.

You may be interested in reading the following article: Diet for kidney stones.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.

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