The kidneys and urinary tract (which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra) filter and eliminate waste substances from our blood. However, sometimes a ureter doesn't connect to the bladder in the usual place. This condition is called an ectopic ureter (ek-TOP-ick YER-et-ur).
Urine, which is produced by the kidneys, contains the byproducts of metabolism — salts, toxins, and water — that end up in the blood. Without the kidneys, waste products and toxins would soon build up in the blood to dangerous levels.
From the kidneys, the urine flows down tubes (the ureters) into the bladder. The urine is stored in the bladder until a person is ready to urinate (pee).
An ectopic ureter may run from the kidney to the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bottom of the bladder to the outside of the body when a person pees) or the reproductive organs. In girls, an ectopic ureter may drain into the vagina.
Some kids with an ectopic ureter are more prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs). Boys may have pain in the testicles. Most girls with ectopic ureter constantly leak a small amount of urine.
Surgery can fix the problem. The surgeon usually does this by moving the ectopic ureter so that it drains into a more normal location in the bladder. In a few kids, the kidney that the ectopic ureter is attached to doesn't work properly. If this is the case, the surgeon may remove the ureter and any damaged kidney tissue.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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