Vesicoureteral Reflux

Also known as: VUR.

What is vesicoureteral reflux?

Urine normally flows one way from the kidneys to the bladder via tubes called the ureters before exiting the body through the urethra. When urine flows backwards from bladder towards the kidneys the condition is called vesicoureteral reflux. It may be mild to severe.

What causes vesicoureteral reflux?

There are two main causes of vesicoureteral reflux.

Primary vesicoureteral reflux (the most common form), is present at birth and is due to a defect of the normal valve at the bladder end of the ureter. There is a strong genetic component with other members of the family frequently having the same problem.

Secondary vesicoureteral reflux, results from a blockage in the bladder or urethra caused by past urinary infections, injury or surgery and can occur at any age.

VUR is often associated with other birth defects like spina bifida, with spinal nerve or cord abnormalities, hydronephrosis, and other urinary tract abnormalities (like posterior valves).

What are the symptoms of vesicoureteral reflux?

Vesicoureteral reflux may have no symptoms or present with the symptoms of a urinary tract infection, which include fever, pain or burning with urination, pain in the abdomen or flank, a strong urge to urinate, sudden onset of frequent small urinations, blood in the urine, and a strong or foul-smelling urine.

What are vesicoureteral reflux care options?

Children with mild VUR frequently improve over time, though urinary tract infections may still occur. Antibiotic treatment for a urinary tract infection, and in more severe VUR situations, endoscopic management of the valve, or robotic/surgical laparoscopic procedures may be required.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: August 03, 2022 03:49 PM


The Division of Nephrology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital treats kidney disorders and provides comprehensive evaluation of renal functions, including kidney biopsies.

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