Vesicoureteral reflux

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Vesicoureteral reflux

Question

My 5-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with vesicoureteral reflux. What can you tell me about this?

Kathy
Missouri

Answer

Urine normally flows in only one direction — down from the kidneys, through tubes (ureters) to the bladder. Vesicoureteral reflux is the abnormal flow of urine from the bladder back into the ureters. This increases the risk of urinary tract infections. Severe cases of vesicoureteral reflux can lead to kidney damage.

In children, vesicoureteral reflux is often due to a congenital (present at birth) defect in the flap-like valve that normally prevents the backward flow of urine from the bladder. A doctor can confirm a diagnosis of vesicoureteral reflux by X-rays of the kidneys and bladder.

Children with mild cases of vesicoureteral reflux may eventually outgrow the disorder. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition and may include:

  • Antibiotics to prevent urinary tract infections
  • Injection of a bulking agent around the opening of the ureter
  • Surgery to repair the faulty valve

Urinary tract

Illustration of urinary tract

Urine normally flows in one direction — down from the kidneys, through tubes (ureters), to the bladder.

Last Updated: 03/23/2006
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