A nephrostomy tube is a catheter that may be placed in your kidney to help your urine drain well. The tube is connected to a bag outside of your body that collects the urine and any residual stone fragments after surgery.
At the end of your surgery, your doctor inserts a nephrostomy tube through your back and into your kidney. The soft plastic tube is then connected to a drainage bag outside of your body. Your doctor may remove the nephrostomy tube before you are discharged from the hospital or it may be removed several days later at a follow-up appointment.
Your doctor may also insert a nephrostomy tube before surgery to help treat a blockage from a stone.
A nephrostomy tube helps:
Be aware of these common side effects from a nephrostomy tube:
- Some soreness and discomfort, typically at the nephrostomy tube insertion site.
- Blood in your urine. The color can range from light pink to reddish and sometimes can even have a brownish hue – but you should be able to see through it. If bleeding increases significantly, call your doctor immediately or go to an emergency room for evaluation.
- Skin irritation at the insertion site or secondary to the dressing.
- Leakage of small amounts of urine around the tube, which may require you to change the dressing.
- Occasional clots, which may increase with physical activity.
Follow your doctor’s post-surgery instructions and remember to:
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Take pain medicines as prescribed to relieve any discomfort from surgery or your tube.
Nephrostomy Tube Care
While your doctor may remove the nephrostomy tube before you leave the hospital, it typically remains in place for several days following surgery – sometimes longer. As you would expect, there will be some limits on your normal activities, so it may be necessary to have someone help you with your care.
Care of the nephrostomy tube is important, so try to follow these tips:
- Empty the drainage bag before it gets full.
- If you notice leakage of urine around the tube, change the dressing.
- Keep the tube dry and protected from water. The bag and tubing can get wet, so it’s okay to shower, but make sure the incision site is covered with a dressing and avoid tub baths.
- Keep the skin around the incision site clean and change the dressing frequently. It is important to prevent bacteria and other germs from entering the urine drainage system, which can lead to a kidney infection.
- Do not let the drainage bag drag on the floor.
- If the bag is accidentally punctured or begins to leak, replace it immediately.