A ureterocele (yu-REE-ter-oh-seel) is an enlarged area in the lower portion of the tubes (ureters) that carry urine (pee) from the kidney to the bladder.
Ureteroceles are caused by a birth defect in which the opening in the ureter is too small for urine to pass freely into the bladder. As a result, urine backs up into the ureter, causing it to swell like a balloon. Sometimes a ureterocele will cause pee to flow backward from the bladder to the kidney (this is called reflux), which can lead to kidney damage.
Most cases of ureterocele are diagnosed before a child is 2 years old. Others aren't discovered until later in life when the condition causes kidney problems or recurrent urinary tract infections.
Some people with ureteroceles have no symptoms at all. Others may have abdominal, side, or back pain; a burning sensation when urinating; fever; an increased urge to pee; and loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence). The pee may have blood in it or be foul-smelling. Sometimes a lump is felt in the abdomen.
Several types of surgery can permanently correct ureteroceles. Drains and antibiotics can help relieve symptoms in the short-term.
With treatment, most people with ureteroceles will be able to have and maintain normal urinary function.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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