What You Need to Know About Caliectasis

One of the key functions of the kidney is to filter and remove extra fluids and waste from the body. Calyces are among the key structures that enable this function to occur smoothly. They are cuplike extensions within the kidney where the urine first collects before flowing to the bladder.

Sometimes the calyces can dilate and swell with extra fluid due to infections affecting the kidney, a condition known as caliectasis.

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Causes of caliectasis

Caliectasis does not occur independently but is usually due to another condition affecting the kidney. Some of the conditions that may cause swelling and dilation of the calyces to include:

  • Kidney blockage due to a congenital disorder

  • Kidney cysts

  • Urinary tract infections

  • Kidney stones

  • Kidney cancer

  • Hydronephrosis or urinary tract obstruction

  • Kidney infection

Symptoms of caliectasis

Caliectasis does not have unique symptoms, but you may exhibit symptoms of the underlying cause. It would help to be aware of the general symptoms of kidney disease, such as:

  • Blood in urine

  • Difficulties urinating

  • Pus in urine

  • Pain in the abdomen or lower back

  • A frequent, urgent need to urinate

Diagnosis of caliectasis kidney

There is also no specific test for the condition, but it is diagnosed when examining kidney-related infections. Below are some diagnostic tests that could help diagnose the condition.


This procedure involves the insertion of a cystoscope (a tube-like instrument with a camera) through the urethra to search for blockages in the lower urinary tract. The instrument can detect swelling of the calyces and the growth of cysts or kidney stones.


An abdominal ultrasound is conducted using a transducer device that bounces sound waves off organs to generate an image of their structure. This procedure can help detect extra fluid or other unhealthy developments in the kidney.


This procedure involves imaging and contrast material to examine renal structures such as the kidney and bladder. Urography can be performed using CT or MRI scan. CT scans usually combine computer technology and X-ray to create three-dimensional images that could point out swelling, obstructions, cysts, infections, or tumors in your kidney.

On the other hand, MRI scans use radio waves and magnets to produce images of the organs. Doctors usually administer contrast material to improve visibility, as the liquid highlights various structures in the body, making them more distinguishable from surrounding tissues.

The contrast material is not harmful and is usually absorbed by the body or excreted as waste. However, the material can trigger allergic reactions in some patients.


Doctors test your urine sample for substances that may indicate infection. Urinalysis may involve using a dipstick, a chemically treated strip that changes color upon contact with substances such as excess protein, bacteria, sugar, pus, or blood in your urine. While a urinalysis may not provide conclusive results regarding your condition, the test may prompt the doctor to conduct more detailed procedures to reveal the exact problem.

Treatment for caliectasis kidney

Since caliectasis is the result of an underlying problem with your kidney, it follows that treating these conditions can help. Once the doctor diagnoses the illness, they will issue the appropriate treatment to get you back to good health. For instance, if the health issues were a result of a urinary tract infection, antibiotics may suffice.

Tumors and kidney stones may, however, require surgery. The doctor may also use nephrostomy tubes or catheters to drain urine.

Preventing caliectasis

Observing a healthy lifestyle will reduce the chances of developing problems with your kidney that may, in turn, trigger caliectasis. Some of the measures you could take to ensure your kidneys remain healthy include:

  • Quitting smoking

  • Maintaining a healthy blood pressure level by consuming healthy food

  • Avoiding excessive alcohol intake

  • Exercising regularly

You could also reduce the chances of developing UTIs by

  • Drinking plenty of fluid

  • Wiping from front to back to avoid transfer of E.coli bacteria to the urethra

  • Avoiding holding your urine as this can encourage bacterial growth

  • Void bladder frequently

When to see a doctor

You should consult a healthcare professional once you experience symptoms of kidney disease. The doctor will then conduct tests to ascertain the health issue and, in the process, may discover caliectasis should it be present. 

You should undergo treatment for caliectasis as it can lead to complications such as kidney failure if left to fester. Caliectasis resulting from urinary tract infections or obstruction also increases kidney disease risk.

The lowdown

Caliectasis is the swelling of calyces in your kidneys. It is usually caused by an underlying problem affecting your kidneys. Caliectasis typically ends once this condition is treated. Therefore, it is advisable to consult your doctor once you experience symptoms of kidney disease to avoid kidney damage in the long term.

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