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An ureterocele is swelling in one of the tubes (ureters) that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder. The swelling can block urine flow.

An ureterocele is a birth defect.

Complications of Ureterocele

  • Permanent bladder damage (incontinence/urinary retention).
  • Permanent kidney damage, with a decrease or loss of function (one kidney).
  • Urinary tract infection that keeps coming back.

Causes of Ureterocele

  • A ureterocele occurs in the lower part of the ureter, where the tube enters the bladder. The swelling prevents urine from moving freely into the bladder. The urine collects in the ureter and stretches its walls, blowing it up like a water balloon.
  • Ureteroceles occur in about 1 in 500 to 1 in 4,000 people. Caucasians are most likely to be affected. Ureteroceles are equally common in left- and right-side ureters.

Signs & Symptoms of Ureterocele

1. Abdominal pain.

2. Back pain, possibly only on one side.

3. Blood in the urine.

4. Burning pain while urinating (dysuria).

5. Fever.

6. Flank pain

a. On one side
b. May travel or radiate to the groin, genitals, thigh
c. Severe
d. Spasms

7. Foul-smelling urine.

8. Frequent and urgent urination.

9. Lump (mass) in the abdomen that can be felt.

10. Ureterocele tissue falls down (prolapse) through the female urethra and into the vagina.

11. Urinary incontinence.

12. Urinary tract infection.

Diagnosis of Ureterocele

Large ureteroceles are usually diagnosed earlier than smaller ones. A ureterocele may be discovered before the baby is born (during a pregnancy ultrasound). Some people with ureteroceles do not know they have the condition. Often, the diagnosis is made later in life due to kidney stones. A urinalysis may reveal blood in the urine or signs of urinary tract infection.

The following tests may be performed:

  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • CT scan of the abdomen
  • Cystoscopy
  • Pyelogram
  • Radionuclide renal scan
  • Voiding cystourethrogram

Blood pressure may be high if there is kidney damage.

Treatments of Ureterocele

  • Antibiotics such as ampicillin or Bactrim are usually given to prevent further infections until surgery can be done.
  • The goal of treatment is to get rid of the blockage. Drains placed in the ureter or renal area (stents) may provide short-term relief of symptoms.
  • Surgery to repair the ureterocele usually cures the condition. Surgery involves making a cut into the ureterocele ("popping the water balloon") or removing the ureterocele and reattaching the ureter to the bladder. Which surgery is performed depends on the severity of the blockage.

When to seek Medical Advice

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of ureterocele.


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