(VUR; Reflux Nephropathy; Chronic Atrophic Pyelonephritis; Vesico-Ureteric Reflux; Ureteral Reflux)
Pronounced: VEH-sih-co-you-reh-TER-al REE-flux
Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) is the backward flow of urine. The urine flows from the bladder back into the kidney.
Urine normally flows from the kidneys. It passes through tubes called ureters. It then flows into the bladder. Each ureter connects to the bladder in a way that prevents urine from flowing back up the ureter. It is similar to a one-way valve. When this does not work properly, or if the ureters do not extend far enough into the bladder, urine may flow back up to the kidney. If the urine contains bacteria, the kidney may become infected. The backup can also put extra pressure on the kidney. This can cause kidney damage.
This is a potentially serious condition that requires care from your doctor. The sooner VUR is treated, the better the outcome. If you suspect you or your child has this condition, contact your doctor immediately.
Anatomy of the Urinary System
This condition may be caused by:
- A problem in the way the ureter inserts into the bladder
- A ureter that does not extend far enough into the bladder
- Bladder outlet obstruction (eg, blockage of urine flow from an enlarged prostate gland)
- Neurogenic bladder (loss of normal bladder function due to damaged nerves reaching the bladder)
- Temporary swelling after kidney transplant
The following factors increase your chance of developing VUR:
- Family history
- Congenital abnormalities of the urinary tract
- Birth defects that affect the spinal cord, such as spina bifida
In most cases, VUR has no obvious symptoms or signs. It is often found after a kidney infection
A prenatal ultrasound may show a swelling of the kidneys. This is called
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include the following:
- Blood tests—to assess how well the kidneys are functioning
- Urine tests—to look for evidence of an infection or damage to the kidneys
- Ultrasound—a test that uses sound waves to examine the kidney and bladder
- CT scan
The goal for treatment of VUR is to prevent any permanent kidney damage. Treatment options include the following:
Most cases of VUR in children clear up on their own. The problems may clear as the ureters develop. Observation may include:
- Regular urine cultures
- Antibiotics—children at risk of infections or who have had many infections are often placed on low dose, daily antibiotics
- Annual check-ups on kidney functions
Endoscopic injection into the ureter
This procedure is a minimally invasive surgery. It is done to correct the reflux. A chemical is injected where the ureter inserts into the bladder. This will prevent urine from going back up the ureter. This procedure is done through a small tube called a cystoscope .
A surgery that repositions the ureters in the bladder.
American Urological Association
National Kidney Foundation
BC Health Guide
The Kidney Foundation of Canada: British Columbia Branch
Reflux nephropathy. Medline Plus Encyclopedia website. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000459.htm . Accessed January 13, 2008.
Vesicoureteral reflux. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Accessed January 13, 2008.
Vesicoureteral reflux. National Kidney and Urological Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/vesicoureteralreflux/ . Accessed Accessed January 13, 2008..
Wein A, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, Elsevier; 2007.
Last reviewed January 2009 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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