Hydroureter is when the ureter gets bigger than normal due to a backup of urine (pee). Ureters carry urine from each kidney, to the bladder.
What is Hydroureter?
Hydroureter is when the ureter gets bigger than normal due to a backup of urine (pee). Ureters carry urine from each kidney, to the bladder. Hydroureter can happen with other problems of the urinary tract, but it can also be the only condition present.
What are the Causes of Hydroureter?
Hydroureter is most often caused by a blockage that keeps the bladder from emptying. This can cause fluid to back up into the ureters. There are also some cases with no known cause.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hydroureter?
Signs of hydroureter can often be seen on a 20-week ultrasound. They can include:
- Swelling or bulging of the ureters
- Hydronephrosis - swollen, enlarged kidneys
- Oligohydramnios - a low amount of amniotic fluid around the baby
- Pulmonary Hypoplasia - lungs that are not developed fully
How is Hydroureter Diagnosed?
Hydroureter is usually found at the routine 20-week ultrasound. Your health care provider will do more ultrasounds to see if the condition gets better or worse. Usually, these ultrasounds will be every 4 weeks. They are done to check on the ureters and measure the amount of amniotic fluid.
Sometimes an amniocentesis may be done. This is when the amniotic fluid is taken from the amniotic sac in the mother’s belly and tested for other problems.
After birth, your child may have an ultrasound of the bladder, ureters, and kidneys. This is done to see how urine moves through their urinary system.
How is Hydroureter Treated?
Treatment for hydroureter depends on other conditions. In many cases, it goes away on its own before birth or within the first few months after birth.
If hydroureter is severe after birth, your baby may be sent to the NICU so they can be treated and watched closely.
Treatment may involve surgery. This is usually done in the first year or two of your baby’s life. The type of treatment will depend on what is causing the blockage.
Low amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios) is a possible problem with hydroureter. This can affect your baby’s lung development. It can also narrow the umbilical cord. This can limit or cut off your baby’s blood, food, and oxygen supply. If your baby has this problem, you will be watched closely during pregnancy and after delivery.
For children with hydroureter that does not go away on its own, surgery can usually fix the problem. This can keep your child from having kidney damage or urinary tract blockages.