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Kidney Diseases

Can pus cells harm the kidneys?

03/28/2008

Question:

Dear Doctor,

 My sister is 24 years old and has an enormous amount of pus cells. Three to four years ago, she had a urinary infection and she had taken a one-month injection twice a day. Then she was okay. But now she feels pain in her lower abdomen. Then the doctor advised us to check her pus cells. After checking, we saw she had an abnormal amount of pus cells. Her pus cells number is uncountable. The pathology said the number is too high to predict by their computer, and may be more than 100. Now she is taking the drug Ciprofloxacin 500mg twice a day, but still feeling pain. My question: Is this amount of pus cells harmful or can it affect the kidneys? Please doctor help us. We are very worried.

Answer:

The pus cells themselves are not at all harmful: they are actually helpful, because they are white blood cells that are helping to fight infection somewhere in your sister's kidneys or bladder. The question is: where is the infection that the pus cells are fighting, and what has caused the infection? From the location of her pain, it seems likely that the infection is in her bladder, but what she needs is an imaging study of the urinary tract, such as a kidney ultrasound or intravenous pyelogram (IVP) to determine whether there is a structural problem with her kidneys or bladder that is making her more susceptible to infections. If she isn't feeling completely better on the ciprofloxacin, she also needs a urine culture to see what bacteria are growing in it and whether the bacteria is susceptible to ciprofloxacin. If you are living in an area where there is tuberculosis, she should be checked for TB, as that can infect the kidneys, can cause pus cells in the urine, and will not respond to treatment with ciprofloxacin.

Depending on the results of the imaging studies, her doctor may choose to refer her to a urologist, for instance if a structural problem or if TB is found.

If no bladder structural problem is found, and if she does not have TB: be aware that bladder infections, which can be quite uncomfortable and painful, are not uncommon in young women. Often no underlying cause is found, and they can be treated and cured without causing any permanent effects or damage.

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Response by:

Mildred   Lam, MD Mildred Lam, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University