Nephrostomy tube care

What is a nephrostomy tube?

A nephrostomy tube is used as a temporary measure to drain urine from the kidney. It is inserted when the normal pathway from the kidney to the bladder has become blocked.

How is the tube inserted?

You will be given a local anaesthetic in your lower back. When this has taken effect, the tube (or catheter) is passed through the surface of the skin of the lower back into the kidney using ultrasound to guide the doctor. The tube is held in place by a couple of stitches in the skin. A drainage bag is attached to the tube that can be emptied by nursing staff. You may need painkillers after the tube has been inserted, but the discomfort should soon subside.

How do I look after the tube and drainage bag?

The tube and bag are normally cared for by the nurses on the ward. However, if you are going home with the tube in place you will be shown how to look after it or if necessary a district nurse will be arranged to support you at home with the tube.

It is important, at home or in hospital to inform ward staff if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Continuous pain around the area of the tube
  • The skin around the tube is becoming wet or there is redness, swelling or the presence of pus
  • The urine has changed in appearance and smells offensive
  • You have noticed that there is not as much urine in the drainage bag or nothing has drained
  • You are experiencing cold-like symptoms associated with high temperature
  • The tube has become dislodged and has fallen out

For further advice, please do not hesitate to contact the ward on (029) 2074 4588/5495

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