Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Kidney Infection Underlying Cause

Pyelonephritis is caused by an infection by bacteria. The bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and into the bladder. From the bladder, the bacteria spread up the ureters, and into the kidneys.

Bacteria from the intestines cause over 90 percent of cases of pyelonephritis. These bacteria spread from the anus to the urethra in the stool. E. coli bacteria are the most common cause of urinary tract infection.

Less common bacterial causes include:

  • Staphylococcus saprophyticus
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Proteus mirabilis
  • Enterococci
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Enterobacter species

Continue to Kidney Infection Anatomy

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Kidney Infection References
  1. Bloomfield P, Hodson EM, Craig JC. Antibiotics for acute pyelonephritis in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005 Jan 25;(1):CD003772. [15674914]
  2. Efstathiou SP, Pefanis AV, Tsioulos DI, Zacharos ID, Tsiakou AG, Mitromaras AG, Mastorantonakis SE, Kanavaki SN, Mountokalakis TD. Acute pyelonephritis in adults: prediction of mortality and failure of treatment. Arch Intern Med. 2003 May 26;163(10):1206-12. [12767958]
  3. Ramakrishnan K, Scheid DC. Diagnosis and management of acute pyelonephritis in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Mar 1;71(5):933-42. [15768623]
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