Nephrostomy Tube

Read this information so you understand the procedure and its risks. Please ask questions about anything you do not understand.

Download this information

Percutaneous Nephrostomy - Back View

What is a nephrostomy tube?

Urine is produced in the kidney and flows down a small tube called the ureter into the bladder. Sometimes the flow of urine is blocked due to stones, infection, congenital abnormalities or trauma. To restore the flow, a small catheter (tube) can be placed through the skin of the lower back into the kidney. Urine will then drain into a small bag. A nephrostomy tube may be in place for days, weeks or months.

How is a nephrostomy tube placed?

Percutaneous Nephrostomy - Side ViewUsing ultrasound, the interventional radiologist will locate the kidney and insert a special hollow needle through the skin into the kidney. Using live X-ray (fluoroscopy) for guidance, the doctor will guide a small catheter into the kidney. The portion of the catheter on the outside of the skin will be connected to a drainage bag. A small stitch (suture) and/or an adhesive clip will hold the catheter in place on the surface of the skin. Your child will be protected by an X-ray shield.

Will my child be awake during the procedure?

No. We will use either intravenous sedation or general anesthesia so your child isn't awake.

Learn about sedation and general anesthesia.

How long will the procedure take?

Approximately one hour.

What are the risks?

The procedure is considered low-risk. However, potential complications include:

Will my child be in any pain after the procedure?

The catheter site may be tender for several days.

Can my child bathe?

We will place gauze and a clear bandage over the catheter site. In addition, the catheter will be secured with a locking device (StatLock®) which must not be removed. The bandage must remain dry and in place at all times. You may sponge-bathe your child, but must keep the site dry.

Are there any activity restrictions?

Your child must avoid activities, such as contact sports or rough playing, which may result in a pull to the catheter and damage to or loss of the catheter.

  • Print
  • Share


Contact us immediately if your child experiences any of the following:

  • redness at the catheter site
  • drainage, such as pus, from the catheter site
  • fever higher than 101° Fahrenheit
  • catheter pulled out (slightly or completely)
  • urine changes color, smells different or contains blood

Call Interventional Radiology between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at
215-590-7000. At the first prompt push 1, and at the second prompt push 2.

At all other times, call 215-590-1000 and ask to speak to the interventional radiologist on call.