Diagnosing Pyelonephritis

In order to make a pyelonephritis diagnosis, doctors will ask you a number of questions, perform a physical exam, test your urine, and may recommend imaging tests.
Urine Tests
Your urine will be checked under a microscope for bacteria and infection-fighting cells. Your doctor may also order a urine culture, in which bacteria from the urine are allowed to grow in a lab dish. This will allow your doctor to identify the type of bacteria that you have and the type of antibiotic that you need for treatment.
Imaging Tests
Doctor may use x-rays, sound waves (ultrasound), or a computed tomography (CT) scan to view your kidneys, ureters, and bladder. These pictures can show stones, blockages, and swelling.

How Is It Treated?

Once it is determined that your symptoms have been caused by pyelonephritis, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic, which will kill the bacteria causing pyelonephritis. The antibiotic prescribed for your pyelonephritis will depend on the type of bacteria that are found.
For uncomplicated pyelonephritis, treatment will usually last for 2 weeks. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions carefully. Also, let your doctor know if you are allergic to any medications. Some patients may need to stay in the hospital to receive antibiotics, and other people may need surgery if the kidneys, ureters, or bladder is causing pyelonephritis.

Complications From Pyelonephritis

Untreated or recurrent pyelonephritis can lead to chronic pyelonephritis, scarring of the kidneys, and permanent kidney damage.
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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