Nephrostomy Tube Care: Care Instructions

Skip to the navigation

Your Care Instructions

Bladder, ureters, and kidneys

A nephrostomy tube is a thin catheter placed into your kidney to drain urine. You may have one tube in a kidney or two tubes, one in each kidney. The urine collects in a bag attached to the tube. In most cases, the bag is attached to your leg. Sometimes the catheter tube has a valve that lets you drain the urine into the toilet or other container.

You may need a nephrostomy tube if you have a blockage or a hole in your urinary tract. The blockage may be caused by a kidney stone, infection, scar tissue, or a tumour.

If you have only one tube, you still need to urinate. Your other kidney will still produce urine that will drain into your bladder.

Having a nephrostomy tube in for a long time increases the risk of getting an infection. Nephrostomy tube care focuses on preventing infection.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Wash your hands before you handle the nephrostomy tube.
  • Clean the area around the tube with soap and water every day.
  • Keep the drainage bag lower than your kidney to keep urine from backing up.
  • If you have been instructed that you can reuse your bag, you can clean the bag after removing it from the tube. Use another container to collect your urine while you clean the bag. To clean the bag, fill it with 2 parts vinegar to 3 parts water, and let it stand for 20 minutes. Then empty it out, and let it air dry.
  • Empty the drainage bag before it is completely full or every 2 to 3 hours.
  • Do not swim or take baths while you have a nephrostomy tube. You can shower after wrapping the end of the nephrostomy tube with plastic wrap.
  • Change the dressing around the nephrostomy tube about every 3 days or when it gets wet or dirty. A nurse will teach you how to change the dressing.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your nephrostomy tube becomes blocked.
  • Your tube leaks.
  • Urine does not collect in the drainage bag.
  • You have blood or pus in your urine.
  • You have pain in your back just below your rib cage. This is called flank pain.
  • You have a fever, chills, or body aches.
  • You have groin or belly pain.
  • Your urine is cloudy or smells bad.
  • You have pain or bleeding around the tube.
  • You have swelling around the catheter or in your belly.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You need more help to learn how to care for your nephrostomy tube.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter Z836 in the search box to learn more about "Nephrostomy Tube Care: Care Instructions".