Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) is the abnormal flow of urine from the bladder back into the ureters. It is most commonly diagnosed in infancy and childhood, after the patient has a urinary tract infection. The condition can be caused by an impaired valve or a blockage in the urinary system. Symptoms can include bedwetting, high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and kidney failure.
Urine normally flows in one direction -- down from the kidneys, through tubes called ureters, to the bladder. Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) is the abnormal flow of urine from the bladder back into the ureters.
The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located below the ribs toward the middle of the back. The role of the kidneys is to:
- Help control blood pressure
- Make red blood cells
- Keep bones strong
- Remove extra water and wastes from the blood
- Convert the wastes to urine.
The wastes in your blood come from the normal breakdown of active muscle and from the food that you eat. Your body uses the food for energy and self-repair and sends the wastes to the blood. If your kidneys did not remove these wastes, they would build up in the blood and damage your body.
Narrow tubes called ureters carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder, which is an oval-shaped chamber in the lower abdomen. Like a balloon, the bladder's elastic walls stretch and expand to store urine and flatten back together when the urine is emptied through the urethra outside of the body.
Vesicoureteral reflux is most commonly diagnosed in infancy and childhood after the patient has a urinary tract infection (UTI). About one-third of children with UTIs are found to have vesicoureteral reflux. Vesicoureteral reflux can lead to infection because urine that remains in the child's urinary tract provides a place for bacteria to grow. However, infection can also cause vesicoureteral reflux.