Discharge Instructions for Percutaneous Nephrostomy

You had a procedure called percutaneous nephrostomy. This means that urine was drained from your kidney to prevent pain, infection, and kidney damage. You had the procedure because your kidney or the tube leading from the kidney to the bladder (ureter) was blocked by a kidney stone or tumor, or perhaps due to another problem. The blockage caused a backup of urine in your kidney.

A thin, flexible tube called a catheter will stay in place until the problem that caused the buildup of urine has been treated. This may be as soon as a day or as long as weeks to months. The catheter bag is taped to your leg so that you can walk around.


  • Don’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds until your healthcare provider says it’s OK.

  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as mowing the lawn, vacuuming, playing sports, or engaging in anything that will cause your tubing to be pulled or moved.

  • Slowly increase your activity level with short, frequent walks 3 to 4 times a day.

  • Don’t drive while you are still taking pain medicine. Wait until your healthcare provider says it’s OK to drive.

Home care

  • Eat your normal diet.

  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day, unless directed otherwise.

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothes that won’t pull or kink the catheter tube.

  • Check your dressing often to make sure the tubing is secure.

  • Don’t let the drainage bag hang freely, or it will pull on the catheter. Keep it taped to your leg or hold it temporarily.

  • Empty the drainage bag often to keep the weight of the bag from pulling on the catheter.

    • Empty the bag when it is one-half to two-thirds full.

    • Always empty the bag before you go to bed.

    • Wash your hands before and after emptying the bag.

  • Measure and record the amount and color of the urine in the bag.

  • Gently clean the skin around the catheter with mild soap and warm water. Pat dry with a clean towel.

  • Change your dressing if it becomes loose or dirty.

  • Throw away the dressing in a plastic bag.

  • If you were asked to stop any medicines before the surgery, be sure to ask the healthcare provider when you may restart taking them. This is especially important in the case of blood thinners (anticoagulants or antiplatelet medicines).

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.


When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:

  • A catheter that is not draining

  • The catheter comes out. Do not try to put it back in.

  • Pain, redness, or discharge around catheter

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • A noticeable increase or decrease in the amount of urine that drains

  • Cloudy or smelly urine

  • Urine that changes to a pink or red color

  • Increased pain

  • Severe pain in your side

  • Nausea and vomiting