A ureterocele is a problem with a ureter. The ureters are 2 tubes that send urine from the kidneys to the bladder. A ureterocele is when part of a ureter right near the bladder becomes larger and bulges. This happens because the ureter’s opening into the bladder is too small and blocks urine flow. This causes urine to back up in the ureter. The ureter then swells with too much urine.
Children who have a ureterocele may also have ureteral duplication. This means having 2 ureters for each kidney instead of 1 ureter for each kidney. Each ureter drains into the bladder. The ureter with the ureterocele usually drains urine from the top half of the kidney. The duplicate ureter may drain the lower half. The ureter with the ureterocele may enter the bladder lower than the duplicate ureter. This may cause a backflow of urine into the higher ureter.
These conditions often don't cause symptoms. But in some children they may lead to repeat urinary tract infections (UTIs). UTIs can cause symptoms.
UTI symptoms in babies can include:
UTI symptoms in children can include:
The symptoms can seem like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
A ureterocele may be first seen on a prenatal ultrasound, while the baby is still in the uterus. In some cases, it may not be found until the child has repeat UTIs. Then your child may have tests such as:
When a ureterocele and ureteral duplication are diagnosed, your child's healthcare provider will likely order a kidney (renal) scan. This is done to see how well the kidney is working.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. Your child may be referred to a urologist. This is a doctor who treats the urinary tract and the male genital tract.
First, a UTI may be treated with IV (intravenous) fluids and antibiotic medicines. Once the infection is gone, the ureterocele will be treated.
Treatment of the ureterocele often depends on how much the ureter is blocked. It also depends on how well the affected kidney is draining. A small ureterocele may not need treatment if the kidney is working well enough.
In other cases, a child may need surgery. If the area of the ureter has a lot of urine buildup, it may need to be drained with surgery. Larger ureteroceles that cause a lot of urine backflow (reflux) into the kidney may need to be removed or repaired with surgery. In some children, the kidney of the affected side may be damaged. The surgeon may need to remove part of that kidney.
Talk with your child’s healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all treatments.
Call the healthcare provider if your child has:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
The University of Chicago Medicine
5841 S. Maryland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637 | 773-702-1000
Appointments: Call UCM Connect at 1-888-824-0200