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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Pyelonephritis
      Category : Health Centers > Urinary System & Kidneys


Alternate Names : Kidney Infection

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Pyelonephritis is an infection of the kidneys or the ureters. The ureters are small tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Pyelonephritis may come on suddenly or it may be a long-term problem.

What is going on in the body?

Escherichia coli is a bacteria that is normally found in the large intestine. It causes about 90 percent of kidney infections. These infections usually spread from the genital area through the ureters to the bladder. In a healthy urinary tract, the infection is prevented from going to the kidneys by the flow of urine, which washes organisms out. When bacteria enter the usually "germ-free" urinary tract, they can cause pyelonephritis.

What are the causes and risks of the infection?

Pyelonephritis is usually caused by bacteria entering the kidneys from the bladder. The most common causes of this bacteria reaching the bladder include:

  • use of a urinary catheter for draining urine from the bladder
  • surgery on the urinary tract
  • diagnostic testing that uses a scope to enter the urinary tract, such as cystoscopy
  • conditions that block the way the urine flows through the urinary tract, including uterine fibroids, benign prostatic hyperplasia, kidney stones, and pregnancy
  • conditions that make a person more prone to infection, such as diabetes
  • a problem with the urinary tract that is present at birth


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    Pyelonephritis: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Reviewer: Gail Hendrickson, RN, BS
    Date Reviewed: 07/05/01

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