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Ureterocele in Children

  • At Boston Children’s Hospital, we understand that if your infant or child has been diagnosed with a ureterocele, you and your family are under stress. So we’ll approach your child’s treatment with sensitivity and support—for your child and your whole family.

    Here are some of the basics about ureteroceles:

    • If the end of your child’s ureter (a tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder) does not develop properly, it can bulge, forming a small pouch that can block the flow of urine. That bulge or pouch is called a ureterocele.

    • Ureteroceles are birth defects that occur in approximately 1 out of every 2,000 babies. They occur most often in Caucasians.

    • A ureterocele is 10 times more common in girls than in boys, because a duplex collecting system(two ureters for one kidney) is more common in girls.

    • In some children with a ureterocele there may also be backward flow of urine into the kidney, which can damage the kidney (a problem called vesicoureteral reflux).

      • Large ureteroceles may also protrude into the urethra and obstruct the flow of urine out of the bladder.

    • A ureterocele is most often diagnosed in children younger than two years of age with an ultrasound or a voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG). In many cases, the ureterocele or its effects are observed on ultrasounds before birth.

    • Surgery is sometimes necessary to repair your child’s ureterocele, but if the blockage is not severe, your child’s doctor may choose to simply observe her for a while to make sure the condition doesn’t get worse. 

    • Small ureteroceles may not require any treatment at all.

    How Boston Children’s Hospital approaches ureteroceles

    One benefit to being at Children’s is the presence of our excellent Advanced Fetal Care Center. If your baby is diagnosed prenatally with a ureterocele, our multidisciplinary team will follow his condition closely from gestation through birth and beyond.

    Should your child’s doctor deem that she needs surgery, Children's is home to the largest pediatric Department of Urology in the world, with physicians who are experts in a wide range of proven procedures. We perform more than 2,600 surgical procedures each year and care for almost 15,000 children from throughout the country and all over the world. Your child’s doctor will work with you to design a customized plan of treatment that fits your child and her condition. 

    Reviewed by: Caleb P. Nelson, MD, MPH. © Children’s Hospital Boston; posted in 2012.

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