Purpose: We investigated the effect of percutaneous drainage for the treatment of emphysematous pyelonephritis.
Materials and methods: A retrospective analysis was done of 25 patients with emphysematous pyelonephritis who were treated initially with computerized tomography (CT) guided percutaneous drainage during a 10-year period. The patients were concomitantly treated with antibiotics, fluids, and correcting blood glucose and/or ureteral obstruction. We also compared our results of percutaneous drainage to CT findings.
Results: CT identified 12 patients with emphysematous pyelonephritis who had gas with little fluid and 13 who had gas with renal or perirenal fluid collections. In 20 of 25 patients (80%) antibiotic therapy combined with percutaneous drainage constituted the only treatment required. Three patients (12%) whose clinical status improved after percutaneous drainage subsequently underwent elective nephrectomy without further complications. Two patients (8%) died of multiple organ failure. There was no correlation between the gas patterns of emphysematous pyelonephritis and initial success with the antibiotics and percutaneous drainage. There were no recurrences and no complications during a followup of 1 to 10 years (mean 5). Mean duration of treatment was 5.54 weeks (range 1 to 12.6).
Conclusions: CT is an efficient imaging method for diagnosis, guiding the drainage procedures and monitoring response to percutaneous drainage of emphysematous pyelonephritis. Antibiotic therapy combined with CT guided percutaneous drainage of emphysematous pyelonephritis is an acceptable alternative to antibiotic therapy with surgical intervention.