Vesicoureteral reflux occurs when urine moves backwards from the bladder up into the ureters (which connect the kidneys to the bladder). Normally, the ureters enter the bladder at an angle, which serves as a one-way valve to prevent the backwards flow of urine. If this angle is not correct, urine is able to return into the ureters. Children with vesicoureteral reflux are at an increased risk for urinary tract infections and renal damage. In order to determine if a child has reflux, the physician may perform tests in order to watch the kidneys, ureters, and bladder while the bladder is filled and emptied.
Treatment of vesicoureteral reflux depends upon the severity of the reflux. Since many cases of reflux resolve spontaneously before the age of 10, give the child antibiotics on a daily basis in order to prevent urinary tract infections. The child should see the doctor regularly to be certain that there is no infection, and to monitor the degree of reflux as the child ages. In the most severe cases of reflux or if antibiotic management fails, surgery is indicated in which the ureters are re-implanted into the bladder.