Ureterocele: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment


A ureterocele is a birth defect that affects the kidney, ureters (the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder) and bladder. A ureterocele blocks the flow of urine which causes swelling at the bottom of the affected ureter.


What causes a ureterocele?

A ureterocele forms during the prenatal period when the end of ureter that enters the bladder does not develop properly.

What are the symptoms of a ureterocele?

Ureteroceles often do not have any symptoms, unless the condition has resulted in a urinary tract infection (UTI). Symptoms of a UTI include:

  • Painful urination and/or burning feeing while urinating.
  • Bad-smelling urine.
  • Pain and/or a lump in the abdominal area.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Fever.
  • Urinating often.
  • Urinary incontinence (inability to hold urine).
  • Not being able to empty the bladder.

Contact your healthcare provider if you notice any of these symptoms in your child.

How is a ureterocele diagnosed?

Ureteroceles may be diagnosed during an ultrasound before a baby is born. The swollen ureter and kidney may be visible during the procedure.

Ureteroceles are most often found in children ages 2 or younger. However, the condition can be found in older children and adults who may be suffering from kidney stones or a urinary tract infection. Your provider may order any of these tests:

  • An ultrasound of the kidneys and bladder.
  • A test of the bladder called a voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG).
  • A renal scan to evaluate kidney function.
  • CT scans and MRIs to view the bladder and kidneys.
  • A urine test to check for a urinary tract infection.

How is a ureterocele treated?

Treatment for a ureterocele depends on when it is identified. If a ureterocele is identified in the prenatal period, treatment may include antibiotics. A minor procedure called a ureterocele puncture may also be done to correct the condition soon after birth, or while your child is still an infant. This involves passing a small camera into the bladder through the urethra and puncturing the ureterocele.

In older children or adults, treatment can range from observation to reconstructive urinary tract surgery. Your care provider will advise you on the best course of treatment.

What are the risks of a ureterocele?

If left untreated, a ureterocele can damage the bladder and kidneys.

Risks include:

  • Urinary retention.
  • Urinary tract infection.
  • Kidney stones that cannot be passed.
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