Vesicoureteral Reflux and Urinary Tract Infections in Children
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. The muscles of the bladder and ureters and
the pressure of urine in the bladder prevent urine from flowing backward
through the ureters.
Reflux causes an abnormal amount of urine to
remain in the bladder, which makes it easier for bacteria to grow and reach the
kidneys. Vesicoureteral reflux is present in about one-third of children with
urinary tract infections (UTIs).1 It can lead to kidney damage and scarring.
Treatment of reflux depends on how bad the problem is.
- Mild or moderate vesicoureteral reflux in
children often improves with age. The doctor may prescribe
antibiotics to prevent kidney infections until reflux
is no longer a problem.
- When severe reflux is present, reflux has
caused kidney damage, or UTIs continue to occur despite preventive treatment
with antibiotics, the doctor may recommend surgery to correct vesicoureteral
reflux. But surgery may not be any better at preventing future UTIs or kidney damage. And many cases of vesicoureteral reflux get better on their own as a child gets older.2
Tanagho EA, Nguyen HT (2008). Vesicoureteral reflux.
In EA Tanagho, JW McAninch, eds., Smith's General Urology, 17th ed., pp. 179–192. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Larcombe J (2010). Urinary tract infection in children, search date July 2009. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Avery L. Seifert, MD - Urology|
|Last Revised||March 10, 2011|