#1 Ranked Children’s Hospital by U.S. News & World Report
MyPatients provides referring primary care providers with secure access to their patients’ information.
Boston Children's has launched the world's 1st program dedicated to offering hand transplants to children who qualify.
Innovation insider is a semi-monthly e-newsletter analyzes innovations at Boston Children’s, other academic medical centers and from industry.
Read the latest blog by a Boston Children's doctor, clinician or staff member.
There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
What is a ureterocele?
A ureterocele is a small pouch or swelling at the end of your child’s ureter. Normally, the urine flows freely from the kidney to the bladder, but a ureterocele can block part or all of the stream, sometimes even causing the urine to flow backward into your child’s kidney. How much the urinary flow is affected and whether the kidney is at risk of being damaged will indicate how severe your child’s condition is.
Are all ureteroceles the same?
No. Ureteroceles vary widely in terms of severity and location. Some ureteroceles can be virtually nonexistent while others can take up the entire bladder. The severity of a ureterocele depends on its size and the subsequent degree of obstruction it causes.
What causes ureteroceles?
The exact reason why a child develops a ureterocele is not known. This congenital (existing at birth; not acquired) condition is often discovered during a routine prenatal ultrasound, which indicates that they arise from problems in the development of your child’s urinary tract and how the ureter inserts into the bladder.
The condition does run in families, so researchers assume there is a genetic component, but specific genes have not been isolated.
What are the symptoms of a ureterocele?
Small ureteroceles only minimally obstruct the flow of urine, so most children with ureteroceles won’t have any symptoms.
Larger ureteroceles can cause a variety of symptoms; by far the most common is a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Common symptoms of UTI in children include:
A large ureterocele can also cause one or more of the following symptoms in your child:
A ureterocele can put your child at risk for the following complications:
vesicoureteral reflux (VUR)— a condition in which the urine flows from the bladder back up toward the kidneys. VUR can predispose a child to developing kidney infections and kidney damage.
hydronephrosis— a condition in which the backup of urine causes the kidney to swell.
less commonly, a ureterocele may contribute to the formation of kidney stones.
If left untreated or misdiagnosed, a large ureterocele can damage your child’s kidneys and urinary system. Chronic reflux of urine into the kidney, infection and obstruction can result in irreversible kidney damage that may require a surgical removal of a piece of the kidney called a nephrectomy.
If your child has a large ureterocele that puts her kidney at risk, it may be necessary to perform surgery to avoid permanent kidney damage. But even the most severe ureteroceles can be effectively treated if detected early. With an accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment and conscientious management, your child should go on to achieve normal urinary function.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”