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Reflux Nephropathy - What are the complications of reflux nephropathy?


What are the complications of reflux nephropathy?

Some of the complications of reflux nephropathy have already been discussed, such as urine infection, protein in the urine, high blood pressure and kidney failure. Less than 1 in 10 of the people with reflux will develop high blood pressure and kidney failure.

Click for more details on high blood pressure, urine infections and protein in the urine.

There are other less common complications of reflux nephropathy.

Kidney stones

If there is longstanding infection in a kidney, a stone may form. This occurs because calcium and phosphate in the urine come out of solution and cause chalky lumps. One of the reasons for treating urine infections carefully is to reduce the chances that stones will develop. Stones may be small and cause pain in the loin, or may lead to blood in the urine. A small stone could fall out of the kidney and block the tube leading down to the bladder, with back pressure on the kidney; This can cause severe pain. In some cases, the stone in the kidney can grow to a large size, filling the space in the kidney where the urine collects. This space has several ‘branches’ coming off it, so this type of stone is a called a ‘stag horn’, because it looks a little like the horns of a large deer.

Doctors generally try hard to get rid of kidney stones. The techniques available include shock wave treatment (lithotripsy), and surgery, using either a keyhole approach or surgery through a 10cm cut in the side. The specialist can advise which type of approach in best in a particular case. Surgery carries a risk of damage to the kidney, and although lithotripsy can be carried out several times without problems, surgeons are usually unwilling to operate on a kidney more than once.

If someone has high blood pressure, and especially if there is any sign of kidney scarring or reduced kidney function, vigorous treatment of high blood pressure is essential to reduce any ongoing damage to the kidneys, and to help protect the heart and circulation.

The National Kidney Federation cannot accept responsibility for information provided. The above is for guidance only. Patients are advised to seek further information from their own doctor.

NKF Controlled Document No. 10: What are the complications of reflux nephropathy? written: 28/10/2002 last reviewed: 17/07/2017