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Posterior Urethral Valves (PUV)

What are posterior urethral valves?

Posterior urethral valves (or PUV) are an abnormality of the urethra, which is the tube that drains urine from the bladder to the outside of the body for elimination. The abnormality occurs when the urethral valves, which are small leaflets of tissue, have a narrow, slit-like opening that partially impedes urine outflow. Reverse flow occurs and can affect all of the urinary tract organs including the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys. The organs of the urinary tract become engorged with urine and swell, causing tissue and cell damage. The degree of urinary outflow obstruction will determine the severity of the urinary tract problems.

What causes posterior urethral valves?

PUV are the most common cause of severe types of urinary tract obstruction in children. It is thought to develop in the early stages of fetal development. The abnormality affects only male infants and occurs in about one in 8,000 births. This disorder is usually sporadic (occurs by chance). However, some cases have been seen in twins and siblings, suggesting a genetic component.

What are the symptoms of posterior urethral valves?

The syndrome may occur in varying degrees from mild to severe. The following are the most common symptoms of posterior urethral valves. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of PUV may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

How are posterior urethral valves diagnosed?

The severity of the obstruction often determines how a diagnosis is made. Often, PUV are diagnosed by fetal ultrasound while a woman is still pregnant. Children who are diagnosed later often have developed urinary tract infections that require evaluation by a physician. This may prompt your physician to perform further diagnostic tests, which may include:

Treatment for posterior urethral valves:

Specific treatment for PUV will be determined by your child's physician based on:

Treatment for PUV depends on the severity of the condition. Treatment may include the following:

Nearly 30 percent of boys with PUV may have some long-term kidney failure that may need to be addressed. The prognosis for PUV improves when detected early.

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