What is Vesicoureteral Reflux (VUR) | Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

We know that the normal flow of the urine is downwards from the kidneys through the ureters to the bladder where it is stored until passed out. A condition known as Vesicoureteral reflux is such that the normal flow of urine is opposed and caused to flow back from the bladder through the ureters up to the kidneys. This condition is mostly found and diagnosed in children around the world through various techniques and symptoms. No doubt that Vesicoureteral reflux is an alarming condition in children as there can be various complications due to it but the treatment options for this disease are diverse and effective. In this blog, we will learn all the terminologies related to Vesicoureteral reflux.

How does Vesicoureteral reflux occur?

Analogous to epiglottis there is a flap known as flap valve positioned at the joint of bladder and ureter. The functionality of this flap valve is to control the flow of urine in such a way that there is only a one-way flow of urine directional from kidneys through ureters to the bladder. It is justifiable to think that when the functionality of this flap gets affected to cause its disruption, the one-way flow of urine gets disturbed. This causes the backflow of urine resulting to put the patient being in the condition which is medically known as primary Vesicoureteral reflux.

Other than this, Vesicoureteral reflux can also be caused due to the sudden blockage at specific positions in the ureters.

Symptoms of Vesicoureteral reflux

Some of the most common symptoms of Vesicoureteral reflux are as follows

  • Unexplained Hematuria
  • Strong smell in urine
  • The feeling of restriction in the passage of urine
  • Pain in abdomen
  • Chills and fever
  • Feeling of urgency to pee even after urinating
  • Bedwetting

The primary symptoms of Vesicoureteral reflux are not something vividly seen in the patients suffering from this condition. Statistically, it is seen that due to Vesicoureteral reflux, the children mostly suffer from urinary tract infections. This is due to the persistence of urine in the ureters for longer periods.

Some of the rare and severe symptoms of Vesicoureteral reflux are as follows:

  • Hypertension
  • Frequent leakages
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Appetite lossWho should be more worried about getting Vesicoureteral reflux?
Who should be more worried about getting Vesicoureteral reflux?
  • If there is a family history of Vesicoureteral reflux, people who are part of the family line are more likely to develop this condition
  • Some children have dysfunctional flap valves by birth, so they are easily affected by the reflux
  • Some diseases in the central nervous system can induce the condition of Vesicoureteral reflux
  • People with any defect in their urinary system are at an obvious risk of developing this disease.
How is Vesicoureteral reflux diagnosed?

As Vesicoureteral reflux is more common in children, it is very important that the unusual discomfort of the children should not be ignored. There are several test methods to diagnose this backflow of urine, these are:

  • Ultrasound: By using sound waves it is possible to diagnose this condition even before the birth of the child. The sound waves are used to image out the whole urinary tract system.
  • Looking for UTI: by using urine tests, doctors are able to evaluate the possibility of urine being rich in protein which is a strong indicator of UTI
  • Evaluating the association of other problems with VUR: Using urodynamics we are able to just identify the relation of other urine problems with Vesicoureteral reflux.
  • Other procedures such as insertion of tractable dye in the urinary tract to track its passage in the ureters.
Treatment of Vesicoureteral reflux

The treatment of Vesicoureteral reflux obviously depends upon the severity of the condition of a specific patient. To decide a treatment option for a specific patient; each patient is graded as one of the five stages of Vesicoureteral reflux. Other than the stage of VUR, the history of health condition also affects the type of treatment option suitable for a specific patient. The treatment options for Vesicoureteral reflux include:

  • Medication: Generally, the medication given during the treatment of VUR is not actually to treat the flap valve but to avoid any complications that can be caused by it. The approach by which the doctors tackle VUR by this treatment option is to wait for the valve to get more functional with time on its own and meanwhile reducing the risks of other problems such as UTI
  • Invasive methods
    • In some cases, a liquid is inserted in the ureters through injection causing a restring in the backward flow of the urine
    • In some severe cases where the backflow of urine is reached to the point of affecting the kidneys damagingly, a direct surgical method is used to treat the flap valve of the ureters directly.

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