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Pelvocaliectasis - Diagnosis, Treatment, Causes

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Pelvocaliectasis - Diagnosis, Treatment, Causes

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Pelvocaliectasis is a state of swollen renal pelvis where urine flow gets obstructed in any part of the urinary tract.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Yash Kathuria

Published At November 30, 2023
Reviewed AtApril 13, 2024


It is a state in which the renal pelvis of the kidneys gets swollen because the urine flow gets hampered in any part of the urinary tract, known as hydronephrosis. Many researchers use the term pelvocaliectasis synonymously with hydronephrosis. This condition suggests urine fills the ureters and the renal pelvis over the limit. It can either happen unilaterally or bilaterally. Sometimes, pelvocaliectasis can happen due to any anatomical defect that does not let the urine get drained properly. A similar condition is pyelectasis, in which the level of urine rises and gets built up in the central region of the kidney of a fetus. It can also be caused by an unusual vesicoureteral reflux, which is the abnormal urine flow from the urinary bladder toward the kidneys. Depending on the anatomical location, the pyelectasis is also called pelviectasis, pelvocaliectasis, or caliectasis.

What Is a Renal System?

The renal system is an integral part of the body. It helps remove toxins and helps maintain the plasma osmolarity by balancing the electrolyte and water levels in the body. It is also known for the production of erythropoietin, which is responsible for stimulating the production of red blood cells. Renin is one of the factors that regulate blood pressure, and the kidneys produce it.

What Are the Parts of Urinary Tract?

The parts of the urinary tract are as follows:

  • Kidneys: Filtration of blood happens here to produce excreta in the form of urine.

  • Ureters: These are the elastic, hollow tube-like structures forming a bridge between the kidneys and the urinary bladder. It carries urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder.

  • Urinary Bladder: It is a pouch-like structure that stores urine temporarily. It is also elastic, so the size of the urinary bladder varies based on the amount of urine stored in it.

  • Urethra: The urethra is a tube-like opening that provides a passage for the urine to be excreted. The urethra in females is much shorter than the urethra in males.

What Is Pelvocaliectasis?

Pelvocaliectasis is a radiological term used for swollen kidneys with fluid, which is generally caused by obstructed urine in ureters. It is not a disease but a condition that can be reversed in many cases. One of the factors behind the condition is kidney stones. Due to the kidneys, the urine may get obstructed, and the renal pelvis gets swollen as the urine saturates there. The kidneys are important to function properly to excrete toxins and waste materials. Any other underlying medical condition or some other reason can cause the condition. The calyces form the renal pelvis, and the urine is transferred to the ureter through them. It can lead the patient to various health-related complications. Pelvocaliectasis is a condition that may cause a decreased amount of blood purification and a problem in homeostasis.

What Are the Symptoms of Pelvocaliectasis?

It may show the following symptoms:

  • Hematuria. It is seen when there is blood in the urine.

  • Difficulty urinating.

  • Sharp, shooting pain in the abdomen or pelvic area.

  • Tenderness in the abdomen.

  • Suppuration in the urine.

  • Bad-smelling urine.

  • Leg swelling.

  • Weakness

  • Nausea or vomiting

What Are the Causes of Pelvocaliectasis?

The following are the causes of the condition:

  • Hydronephrosis - When swelling occurs in one or both kidneys, then the condition is known as hydronephrosis.

  • Tumor or cyst.

  • Kidney stones.

  • Infection in the kidney.

  • Urinary tract infection.

  • Obstruction in the urine tract.

  • Birth defect of the kidney.

  • Kidney malignancies.

  • Blood clots.

  • Urinary bladder neck contracture.

How Is Pelvocaliectasis Diagnosed?

Many times, pelvocaliectasis is analogous to chronic kidney conditions. The physician would ask about the patient's symptoms and then check for palpable tenderness and swelling around the pelvic area.

A few diagnostic tests can be performed mentioned below:

  • Cystoscopy: A camera is attached to the tube-like structure and inserted inside the body through the urethra to check the urinary bladder and the kidneys.

  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound can identify foreign bodies and can detect fluid accumulation.

  • Urography: Computed tomography scans and contrast dyes are used in urography to observe the kidneys properly.

  • Urinalysis: A patient's urine sample is sent for a pathological test. The lab technician will look into the urine microscopically to find any foreign body. That could be the reason for the blockage of the ureters.

How Is Pelvocaliectasis Treated?

The cause of the pelvocaliectasis suggests the treatment protocol. Firstly, it is essential to detect the cause of the condition. The patient may feel sudden sharp, shooting pain in the pelvis either unilaterally or bilaterally. In this situation, urgent care or immediate treatment is necessary. Analgesics can be used to treat such pain. If hematuria occurs, then the underlying cause can be an infection. To treat the infection, the patient is prescribed antibiotics. If the patient develops bacteremia, and if it is not treated, then it may be dangerous for the life of the patient. If, in a rare case, the patient has only one kidney, then the mortality rate rises. The physician may use nephrostomy tubes or catheters against the obstruction. If the obstruction is severe, the patient may need surgery. If the cause is a tumor, then chemotherapy or excision of the tumor may be required.


Pelvocaliectasis is a condition that, if not treated in time, may prove to be fatal. With proper attention and being health conscious can help avoid the condition. As kidney stones could be the reason behind the obstruction of the ureters, which leads to inconvenience in passing the urine into the bladder, people must follow a proper diet to avoid the stones or get their kidney stones removed in time. Purchasing a calculi strainer can be beneficial in collecting the calculi passed through urine. People who have only one kidney have to be very cautious, as pelvocaliectasis may damage the kidney. Sometimes, the kidneys get damaged beyond repair, and in such cases, the condition could lead to complete renal failure and eventually death. The prognosis is good if the condition is treated as soon as possible. If the obstruction is taken care of, then the normal kidney function may return. Humans mostly have two kidneys, so due to this condition, if one kidney is damaged completely, the other will compensate for the other one, and the kidney function may return to normal.

Dr. Yash Kathuria
Dr. Yash Kathuria

Family Physician


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