A ureterocele is an abnormality that is characterized by a swelling of the ureter tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.

This swelling is always localized to the bottom of the ureter where it generally enters into the bladder. The swelling of the ureter typically will resemble a balloon that makes it difficult for the urine to flow normally into the bladder. The biggest concerns regarding a ureterocele are potential damage to the kidney and infections of the kidney and blockage of urine outflow from the bladder.

doctor-working-with-ureterocele-patient---UCI-Pediatric-Urology

Causes of Ureteroceles

Ureteroceles are a congenital abnormal development of the base of the ureter, meaning it is present before birth. Usually, the ureterocele is found during routine ultrasounds during pregnancy. Ureteroceles can run in families and can be hereditary. They are never acquired following the time of birth.

anatomy-showing-where-ureterocele-would-occur---UCI-Pediatric-Urology

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Symptoms of a Ureterocele

If a ureterocele is very small in size, it may not cause any noticeable symptoms. However, some ureteroceles cause a child to experience:

  • Straining or incomplete urination
  • Frequent urinary tract infections (with fevers)
  • Excessive urination
  • Pain in the back, side, or abdomen

In rare cases, kidney stones or hydronephrosis (swelling of the kidney) can result from a ureterocele and appear as a symptom.

urinalysis-to-test-for-ureterocele---UCI-Pediatric-Urology

Treatment Options

When ureteroceles are detected early, surgical procedures to treat them are most often a success. The patient’s age, health, and other urinary conditions are taken into consideration when making the recommendation for the method to treat ureteroceles at UCI Pediatric Urology.

  • Surgical procedures involve either puncture and deflation, removal of damaged kidney regions, removal of the entire kidney, or a ureter bypass around the ureterocele.
  • In severe cases, a procedure to remove the ureterocele and reconstruct the bladder neck, bladder floor, and ureteral valve flap may be necessary to fully treat the abnormality.