Hydronephrosis is a rare but serious medical condition in which the kidney becomes distended by a buildup of urine which cannot be evacuated through the bladder. If left untreated, the condition can become quite severe and result in a variety of health problems including long-term atrophy of the kidney. There are a number of probable causes of hydronephrosis, one of which is the maternal use of certain prescription drugs by women during pregnancy.

Hydronephrosis Suit Review: If you or somebody you know has a child who has been diagnosed with hydronephrosis after being exposed to a prescription medication in utero, you should contact our lawyers immediately. Consultations are always free. Please use our confidential email contact form or call toll free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600.

Which drugs have been linked to hydronephrosis?

Taking certain medications during pregnancy can cause birth defects. Drugs that have the potential to cause serious congenital abnormalities are called ‘teratogens.’ The following prescription medications have been linked to birth defects like hydronephrosis when taken by expecting mothers during pregnancy (especially during the first trimester, a time when many women may still be unaware they are pregnant):

    • Paxil (paroxetine)
    • Zoloft (sertraline)
    • Celexa (citalopram)
    • Prozac (fluoxetine)
    • Lexapro (escitalopram)
    • Symbyax (fluoxetine and olanzapine)
    • Wellbutrin (bupropion)
    • Effexor (venlafaxine)
    • Depakote (Divalproex Sodium)
    • Depakote CP
    • Depakote ER
    • Depakene (valproic acid)
    • Depacon (valproate sodium injection)

Hydronephrosis Overview

Normally, urine flows out of the kidneys at extremely low pressure. If the flow of urine is obstructed, however, urine backs up behind the blockage until it reaches the small tubes of the kidney and its collecting area (renal pelvis), distending the organ and increasing pressure on the body’s internal structures. The elevated pressure from obstruction may ultimately damage the kidney and can result in loss of its function.

In the United States, more than three million maternal ultrasounds are performed each year, with hydronephrosis being the most commonly reported congenital abnormality. The condition is detected in as many as many as 42,000 fetuses (1.4%). Thus, obstetricians and pediatric urologists alike commonly encounter the diagnosis of prenatal hydronephrosis.

Signs & Symptoms of Antidepressant-Induced Hydronephrosis

The side effects of hydronephrosis largely depend upon whether the obstruction is chronic or acute, partial or complete, unilateral or bilateral. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • flank pain
  • abdominal mass
  • nausea and vomiting
  • urinary tract infection
  • fever
  • painful urination (dysuria)
  • increased urinary frequency
  • increased urinary urgency

An obstruction that occurs at the urethra or bladder outlet can cause pain and pressure resulting from distention of the bladder. Blocking the flow of urine can result in urinary tract infections, which can lead to the development of the following complications:

  • kidney stones
  • blood or pus in the urine
  • kidney failure (if complete obstruction occurs)


In most cases, hydronephrosis results from an obstruction located at the junction of the ureter and renal pelvis. Causes of this type of defect typically include:

  • structural abnormalities
  • kinking at the ureteropelvic junction resulting from a kidney shifting downward (ptosis of the kidney)
  • stones (calculi) or a blood clot in the renal pelvis
  • compression of the ureter by bands of fibrous tissue, an abnormally located artery or vein, or a tumor

Hydronephrosis can also result from an obstruction below the ureteropelvic junction or from backflow of urine from the bladder. Causes of this type of obstruction may include:

  • stones in the ureter
  • blood clot in the ureter
  • tumors in or near the ureter
  • narrowing of the ureter resulting from a birth defect, injury, infection, radiation therapy, or surgery
  • disorders of the muscles or nerves in the ureter or bladder
  • formation of fibrous tissue in or around the ureter resulting from surgery, radiation therapy, or drugs (especially methysergide)
  • bulging of the lower end of the ureter into the bladder (ureterocele)
  • cancers of the bladder, cervix, uterus, prostate, or other pelvic organs
  • obstruction that prevents urine flow from the bladder to the urethra, resulting from prostate enlargement

What is the treatment for hydronephrosis?

The primary goal of treatment for hydronephrosis is to:

  • restart the free flow of urine from the kidney
  • decrease the swelling and pressure that builds up and decreases kidney function
  • minimize pain
  • prevent urinary tract infections

If surgical intervention is required, the timing of the procedure will depend on the underlying cause of the condition and associated side effects that may be present. Shock wave lithotripsy (SWL) is a common treatment for kidney stones, and involves shock waves from outside the body that are targeted at a kidney stone, which cause it to break into tiny pieces that are able to be passed out of the urinary tract in the urine.

For individuals with urinary retention and an enlarged bladder, catheterization may be all that is needed for initial treatment. For patients with strictures or stones that are difficult to remove, a doctor may place a stent into the ureter that bypasses the blockage and allows urine to flow from the kidney. Using a fiberoptic scope inserted into the urethra through the bladder, the doctor can visualize where the ureter enters and can thread the stent through the ureter into the kidney pelvis, thereby bypassing any obstruction.

Is there a time limit in filing a hydronephrosis lawsuit?

Although we encourage all our potential clients to take great care in selecting their hydronephrosis lawyer, it is important that you understand that time is of the essence. The applicable statute of limitations in your state may time bar your claim. Furthermore, we are unable to provide you with legal advice without first evaluating your potential case. Accordingly, please take the time now to contact us by using the confidential email contact form below or by calling us toll free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600.

We hope we will be able to assist you with your potential hydronephrosis birth defects lawsuit and look forward to speaking with you.

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