Pyelonephritis refers to kidney and renal pelvis inflammation, caused by microbial infection.

In the majority of cases, urinary tract infections are restricted to the bladder and urethra (lower urinary tract).

In pyelonephritis, the infection spreads to the ureters and kidneys (upper urinary tract).

Pyelonephritis is a potentially dangerous situation which, if not treated, can be life-threatening for the patient.

The reason is that the infection can spread through the circulatory system (blood) and result in sepsis.

Thus, it is important to have a timely diagnosis and for the patient to receive the appropriate treatment.

Due to differences in anatomy, women are more often affected by pyelonephritis than men.

Causes of pyelonephritis

It is caused by the entrance and colonization of microorganisms in the kidney and renal pelvis.

Microbes commonly causing pyelonephritis do not differ from those causing other urinary tract infections (E.coli, Proteus, Klebsiella).

There are diseases and conditions creating an increased risk for developing pyelonephritis, such as:

  • Urinary tract obstruction (prostate hypertrophy, urinary lithiasis)
  • Diabetes mellitus

Symptoms of pyelonephritis

Pyelonephritis may manifest simple urinary tract infection symptoms, such as urinary frequency and dysuria.

When the infection spreads to the kidney, the condition deteriorates and the following symptoms may occur:

  • Pain in the kidney region
  • Fever with shivering
  • Weakness and exhaustion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hematuria

Diagnosis of pyelonephritis

The diagnosis is delivered based on the history, clinical examination, and blood and urine test results.

It is important to assess the overall condition of the patient (blood pressure, pulse), and start the appropriate treatment immediately.

Imaging studies (ultrasound, CT scan) may be required to identify the causes of pyelonephritis and administer the appropriate treatment.

Treatment of pyelonephritis

Without timely treatment, it is a serious and potentially dangerous infection.

Depending on the overall condition of the patient, oral antibiotics may be necessary or even hospitalization for the management of the underlying cause of the pyelonephritis and to allow the administration of intravenous antibiotics.