Vesicoureteral Reflux Program
Who we are
The Vesicoureteral Reflux (VUR) Program at Boston Children's Hospital treats children with this condition. Many children may need no more than antibiotics and regular follow-up imaging tests. If surgery is necessary, your child will have access to the latest procedures, including minimally invasive surgery.
What is vesicoureteral reflux?
VUR is a condition that affects about 1 percent of all children. It occurs when urine that resides in the bladder flows in the wrong direction, backing up into the ureters and kidneys.
Normally, urine flows down from the kidneys; passing through tubes called the ureters, and then enters the bladder. The urine then exits the body through the urethra. But if your child has vesicoureteral reflux, the bacteria that normally leave the body via the urine to come back into the kidney. This, in turn, causes urinary tract infections and sometimes serious kidney infections.
How common is vesicoureteral reflux?
About 30 years ago, when children with VUR were brought in to see their doctor, the main diagnosis was a urinary tract infection (UTI). Then, if a child's UTI was investigated further, it would be found that the child had vesicoureteral reflux. Approximately 30 to 40 percent of children with UTIs are found to have VUR. Now, because of more awareness, children with VUR, are diagnosed earlier, eliminating the underlying cause of the infections.
Tests your child might receive in the VUR program include:
- Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG)- an x-ray that examines the urinary tract as the bladder fills and empties. The images will show if there is any reverse flow of urine from the bladder into the ureters and kidneys
- Radionuclide cystogram (RNC)- another test that uses radioactive tracers to determine if urine is going from the bladder back to the kidney, rather than out of the body
- Renal ultrasound- a non-invasive imaging test used to determine the size and shape of the kidney, and to detect a mass, kidney stone, cyst, or other obstruction or abnormalities
- Blood tests - to measure function of the kidneys indirectly, based on detection of proteins circulating in the blood.
Minimally invasive surgery
If surgery proves necessary, minimally invasive procedures, such as laparoscopy and endoscopy, are available for your child. The Children's Department of Urology has been instrumental in developing cutting-edge minimally invasive urological surgeries for children.
Telltale VUR symptoms
Symptoms of VUR include urinary tract infection, wetting, nausea and vomiting, protein in the blood and high blood pressure caused by kidney damage.