What is vesicoureteral reflux?

Vesicoureteral Reflux

Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR)

Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) is the backward flow of urine from the bladder into the kidneys.

Normally, urine flows from the kidneys through the ureters to the bladder, and the muscles of the bladder and ureters and the pressure of urine in the bladder prevent urine from flowing backward through the ureters. VUR allows bacteria, which may be present in the urine in the bladder, to reach the kidneys. This can lead to kidney infection, scarring, and damage.

The goal of treatment for vesicoureteral reflux is to prevent kidney damage. Treatment may include antibiotics or surgery. Frequent urine tests may be needed to check for infection.

What are the symptoms of vesicoureteral reflux (VUR)?

Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) doesn't cause any symptoms or pain. But it can result in kidney damage if a child who has VUR gets a urinary tract infection.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) can be a symptom of VUR. Symptoms of a UTI may include fever, pain or burning with urination, frequent urination, and the feeling that the bladder does not empty completely. Fever may be the only symptom of a UTI in a small child. So a urinary tract infection should be suspected in any child who has a high fever without an obvious cause.

How is vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) treated?

Many children do not need treatment for vesicoureteral reflux (VUR). The ureters grow as a child gets older. Mild cases of VUR usually go away completely by the time a child is 5 years old.

With VUR, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are more likely. Antibiotics are often prescribed to prevent or treat UTIs and help reduce the chance of scarring that can lead to kidney damage. Your child may need to take continuous antibiotic treatment. Or your doctor may give you the option of carefully watching your child for signs of another UTI and only using antibiotics when your child gets a new infection.

Surgery may be needed to repair more severe cases of VUR.

How is vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) diagnosed?

The doctor will do a physical exam and ask about your child's symptoms. VUR may be suspected if your child has had several urinary tract infections (UTIs). VUR is usually diagnosed with a test that takes X-rays of the urinary tract (voiding cystourethrogram). Other tests may include a urine culture and a kidney ultrasound.

How can you care for your child who has vesicoureteral reflux (VUR)?

Follow any instructions your doctor gives you, and go to all follow-up appointments. Make sure your child drinks enough water and avoids constipation. Encourage your child to urinate often throughout the day. Watch for signs of a problem, and call the doctor if your child is having symptoms, such as a fever.

What causes vesicoureteral reflux (VUR)?

There are two types of vesicoureteral reflux (VUR):

  • Primary VUR is caused by a problem with the development of the valve at the end of the tube that carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder (ureter).
  • Secondary VUR is also caused by a problem with the same valve. Something inside the bladder prevents the bladder from emptying by blocking the opening. This causes increased pressure in the bladder that keeps the valve from closing properly.

What is vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) in newborns?

Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) is the backward flow of urine inside the body. Urine is made by the kidneys and is supposed to flow to the bladder through the ureters and then leave the body. But when it flows backward, from the bladder to the kidneys, it can cause bacteria to reach your baby's kidneys. This could cause an infection or scarring.

VUR may be a congenital problem. This means your baby was born with it. VUR ranges from mild to severe. Mild cases often need no treatment.

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