Kidney & Ureter
The urinary system includes two kidneys, two ureters, the bladder, two sphincter muscles, and the urethra. Waste products from the blood are filtered by the kidneys and added to urine that the kidneys produce where they are dissolved and moved with the urine to the ureters, which are tubes that connect the kidney to the bladder.
Sometimes waste byproducts in the urine do not dissolve completely and develop from microscopic particles or crystals into kidney stones over time. Stones that move down into the ureter, get stuck in the passage, and cause excruciating pain are referred to as ureteric stones. Cancerous (malignant) cells can develop in the lining of the kidney’s tubules and grow into a mass called a tumor, which is known as renal cell carcinoma (RCC), the most common form of kidney cancer. At Academic Urology & Urogynecology of Arizona, we specialize in the field of urogynecology and believe that early detection and diagnosis of these and other female urological problems, such as those listed below are important in providing patients with effective treatment options.
- Kidney Stones are hardened mineral deposits that form in the kidney, vary in size, and can cause mild to severe pain. Kidney stones in women are usually harder to detect and diagnose than men because many of the symptoms associated with this urological problem can be easily dismissed as monthly menstrual symptoms.
- Kidney Cancer are cancerous cells that originate in the kidneys, can stay localized to one kidney or metastasize (spread) from one kidney to another or from the kidneys to the bones, liver, lungs, and/or lymph nodes. Women over the age of 60 are at an increased risk of developing kidney cancer.
- Hydronephrosis is the swelling of the kidney due to a backup of urine when the flow is obstructed. Hydronephrosis of both kidneys can occur during pregnancy as the enlarging uterus compresses the ureters.
- Kidney Obstruction is a blockage at the level where the kidney meets the ureter. Causes of kidney obstruction in women may include a congenital malformation (the patient is born with the obstruction), stone disease, infection, and trauma.
- Kidney Infection is a bacterial infection of the kidneys (or upper urinary tract). Causes of kidney infection in women include pregnancy, diabetes, cancer, kidney stones, abnormalities of the urinary tract, and when bacteria gets into the urinary tract following sexual intercourse.
- Ureter Cancer is rare and often spreads (metastasizes) to adjacent soft tissue but tends to be localized when diagnosed. Urethral cancer is more common in women and women over the age of 60 are at an increased risk.
- Ureter Obstruction and Stricture is the narrowing of the urethra, which causes functional obstruction. Women can experience urinary tract obstruction or stricture when the ureters become externally compressed by pelvic tumors or by advanced cervical or gynecologic malignancies.
- Ureteropelvic Junction Obstruction is a blockage in the area that connects part of the kidney to one of the ureters that move urine to the bladder. In adult females, the obstruction can be due to scar tissue, infection, previous treatments for a blockage, or kidney stones.
The goal of both non-surgical and surgical kidney stone treatments at Academic Urology & Urogynecology of Arizona is to remove the stones, prevent infection, and prevent recurrence. Treatment for kidney cancer in women depends on the type and stage of the disease. Nephrectomy (surgical removal of a kidney) is the treatment of choice for localized renal cell carcinoma, whereas the treatment for metastatic renal cell carcinoma consists of targeted therapies, such as torisel, nexavar, and sutent, the use of immunotherapy including interferon and interleukin-2, and in some cases, nephrectomy.