Childr Health Information

Urinary Reflux

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Topic: Diseases & Conditions

This handout was written to answer some of the questions most often asked about urinary reflux. Feel free to ask your doctor or nurse to go over any information
you do not understand.

Urine normally drains from the kidneys through small tubes (ureters) and into the bladder. When the back flow valve in the ureter fails, the urine backs up into the kidneys. This is called urinary reflux.

Urinary reflux can occur when the end of the ureter that enters the bladder is too short. The infant may be born with reflux or it can develop later if the bladder does not empty or has an outflow obstruction.

When a child who has reflux gets a bladder infection and the infected urine continues to back up into the kidney, this can scar, damage and slowly harm the kidney causing the kidney to not grow properly. The pressure of the urine backing up into the kidney may also make the ureter and the kidney larger. This is called “hydronephrosis” and also can damage the kidney. Reflux cannot be felt and rarely causes symptoms. The problem is found by doing either a x-ray using contrast material (x-ray dye) which is called a cystogram (VCUG) or by using a radioactive isotope (nuclear cystogram). If reflux is found in your child, one of the following tests will be done to detect any damage done to the kidney.
• Renal ultrasound
• Renal scan
• Cystogram
• Nuclear cystogram

Many children with reflux will “outgrow” the condition as they get older. Other children will need to have surgery to correct the reflux. The plan of treatment will be different according to your child’s age, number of urinary tract infections and x-ray findings.
The two types of treatment are:
1. Non-surgical Treatment
Since infection is the primary cause of kidney damage, most children with reflux need to be on long-term antibiotic therapy. This means taking a very small dose of an antibiotic once a day for as long as the reflux is present or the child is at risk for kidney damage. This medicine does not “cure” the reflux, but is given to try to prevent infections while waiting for the child to outgrow the condition.
2. Surgical Treatment
Surgical correction of reflux consists of “reinserting” the ureter back into the bladder, making a new tunnel, which will successfully prevent reflux, restoring a functional back flow valve.

If your child shows any of the following signs or symptoms, a urine specimen needs to be checked by your doctor and an urine culture obtained:
• Frequent urination
• Fever
• Chills
• Back pains
• Stomachaches
• Dark “cola” colored or cloudy urine
• Foul smelling urine
• New wetting accidents or increased frequency

It is also possible to have a urinary tract infection without being sick or having any obvious symptoms. If there is an infection, your child needs to be treated right away. A child with reflux should have his or her urine checked if he or she has symptoms or fevers.

Most importantly, continue giving your child the antibiotic medicine every day, and be sure to keep follow-up appointments for check-ups and x-rays.

PDF: Child Health Information - URINARY REFLUX

Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).

La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.
Corregido: 2000, 2003

The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.

Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.
Revised: 2000, 2003


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