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What is a UPJ obstruction?
In a normal urinary system, urine flows from the kidney through the ureter and into the bladder. In children with a ureteropelvic junction (UPJ) obstruction, there is a blockage between the ureter and the kidney that can slow or block the flow of urine. In severe cases, the urine is unable to drain from the kidney, and can stretch the organ and cause permanent damage.
What are the different types of severity of UPJ obstructions?
UPJ obstructions range in severity from mild to severe:
What causes UPJ obstructions?
The exact cause of UPJ obstructions is not known, but they are congenital (present at birth) and are often discovered during a routine prenatal ultrasound, which suggests that they arise from problems in the development of your child’s urinary tract.
There are a few ways an obstruction can form while your baby is developing:
The condition has been known to run in families, which indicates a genetic component, although specific genes have not yet been identified.
What are the symptoms of a UPJ obstruction?
Most babies won’t have any symptoms at all. If your child’s UPJ obstruction has been seen on a prenatal ultrasound, it’s probably because she has hydronephrosis (or extra urine in the kidney). This is a fairly common condition that often goes away on its own after birth.
Moderate to severe
More severe UPJ obstructions may be associated with blood in the urine or abdominal pain in older children.
Severe pain in your child’s side is also a possibility, especially after being hit there during a contact sport or accident.
If a large UPJ obstruction has caused a lot of urine to build up in your child’s kidney, she may also experience some or all of the symptoms of kidney failure:
Are there any complications associated with UPJ obstructions?
If a UPJ obstruction is detected early, it can be treated fairly easily. If left untreated or misdiagnosed, however, the chronic backup of urine into the kidney can do permanent damage to your child’s kidneys and urinary system. That’s why it’s vital to see a specialist in urology for an accurate, timely diagnosis.
What is the long-term outlook for my child?
Every child is unique, and your child’s long-term health depends upon her exact condition. But the bottom line is that with an accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment and close management of her treatment and care, 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.”