Vesicoureteral Reflux

Basic Facts

  • Vesicoureteral reflux is the backward flow of urine through the ureters and into the kidneys.
  • It is a congenital condition, or a condition a person is born with, that tends to run in families.
  • Vesicoureteral reflux is often diagnosed as a result of a urinary tract infection.
  • Surgery is often postponed until age 4 to see if the condition resolves spontaneously while the child is protected with prophylactic antibiotic therapy.

Vesicoureteral reflux, called VUR or reflux, is an abnormality of the urinary tract that is usually present at birth. In VUR, urine flows backward from the bladder, up the ureters, and into the kidneys.


VUR has no symptoms. The condition is usually diagnosed in conjunction with urinary tract infections (UTIs).


The primary cause of the condition is abnormal development that results in an impaired ureteral valve, which does not close properly.


UTIs are the most common reason that VUR is discovered because the presence of a UTI leads the physician to look for abnormalities in the urinary tract. VUR is also suspected when an infant or child is observed to have an enlarged kidney drainage system on an ultrasound exam of the kidneys.


Giving the patient antibiotics to prevent UTIs and kidney damage is the cornerstone of initial treatment. Children with more serious forms of reflux are likely to require surgery. Surgeons may also opt to remove a ureter or kidney if they are badly damaged.

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