Ureterocele and Ureteral Duplication
What is a ureterocele?
A ureterocele involves the kidney, ureter, and bladder. A normal ureter transports
urine from the kidney to the bladder. When a child has a ureterocele, the part of
the ureter closest to the bladder becomes enlarged because the ureter opening is very
tiny and blocks urine outflow. As the urine flow is blocked, urine backs up in the
What is ureteral duplication?
Children who have a ureterocele may also have an ureteral duplication. This means
that they will have two ureters for one kidney that drain independently into the bladder.
The ureter with the ureterocele generally drains the top half of the kidney while
the duplicate may drain the lower half. The ureter with the ureterocele may enter
the bladder lower than the duplicate ureter. This may cause a backflow of urine into
the higher ureter.
Who is affected by ureterocele and ureteral duplication?
Ureterocele and ureteral duplication is much more common in girls than in boys. In girls, the
ureterocele will nearly always involve both kidneys, whereas in boys often only one
kidney is involved.
What causes ureterocele and ureteral duplication?
The cause of ureterocele and ureteral duplication is unknown. But, some cases have
been reported in siblings, suggesting a genetic component.
How is a ureterocele and duplicate ureter diagnosed?
If a ureterocele is not found on a prenatal ultrasound, it may not be found until
the child has recurrent urinary tract infections. If your child has frequent urinary
tract infections, your child's healthcare provider may do these tests:
Ultrasound of the entire urinary tract. This imaging test uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images
of blood vessels, tissues, and organs. Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs
as they function, and to assess blood flow through various vessels.
Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG). Your child's bladder is filled with contrast from a catheter and your child's healthcare
provider watches urination to see if reflux into the ureters occurs.
What is the treatment for a ureterocele or ureter duplication?
Your child’s healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment based on:
How old your child is
His or her overall health and medical history
How sick he or she is
How well your child can handle specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
How long the condition is expected to last
Your opinion or preference
If your child is ill from a urinary tract infection, intravenous fluids (IV) and antibiotics
may be given. Once the urinary tract infection is resolved, the ureterocele will be
Treatment of the ureterocele often depends on the size of the constriction and the
function of the kidney that the ureter is draining. If the area of the ureter has
a great deal of urine buildup, it may need to be surgically drained. Larger ureteroceles
that may cause a great deal of reflux (or backflow) into the ureter may need to be
removed or surgically repaired.
In some children, the kidney of the affected side may be damaged and part of it may
need to be removed.
Your child may be referred to a urologist. This is a doctor who specializes in disorders
and care of the urinary tract and the male genital tract. A small ureterocele may
not require medical treatment. if the kidney is working OK.