Testing & Diagnosis for Ureterocele in Children

At Boston Children’s Hospital, we know that the first step in treating your child’s ureterocele is forming an accurate and complete diagnosis

How is a ureterocele diagnosed?

Ultrasound: since a ureterocele is a congenital (present at birth) condition, it is often detected before birth when a prenatal ultrasound shows hydronephrosis (swelling) of a kidney. In some cases, the hydronephrosis is detected prenatally, but the ureterocele is not found until more thorough tests are completed after the baby is born.

If it’s not found then, it may not be discovered until your child has recurrent urinary tract infections.

If we’ve noted a ureterocele (or hydronephrosis) in a prenatal ultrasound, your doctor will typically perform the following tests a few weeks after your baby is born to diagnose the condition and assess the function of your child’s urinary system:

  • Renal ultrasound (RUS): This ultrasound focuses specifically on the kidneys and bladder to give doctors a general idea of how severe the hydronephrosis is. If a ureterocele is present, it can also be identified through this imaging. 

  •  Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG): This special kind of x-ray is used to examine the anatomy of your child’s bladder and check for reflux. Using a small tube called a catheter, doctors will fill your child’s bladder with a liquid containing iodine. As the bladder fills and your child urinates, the flow of the liquid will be visible on video x-ray images.

  • Renal scan (DMSA or MAG 3): This is a type of nuclear scanning test that helps measure the difference in function between the two kidneys and also estimate the degree of blockage in the urinary system. After a tiny amount of radioactive material (radioisotope) is injected into your child’s bloodstream, a special camera called a gamma camera is used to take pictures of the kidneys as the radioactive material moves through them, showing how well they are filtering and draining.

  • Blood tests: These let the doctor see how well your child’s kidneys are working.

  • Urinalysis and urine culture:  Laboratory tests that examine the urine. These tests can indicate microscopic blood or protein in the urine, other chemicals, or evidence of a UTI.

Older children who come to us with some or all of the symptoms of a ureterocele are diagnosed using the same method.

After we complete all necessary tests, our experts meet to review and discuss what they have learned about your child's condition. Then we will meet with you and your family to discuss the results and outline the best treatment options for your child.