• Vesicoureteral Reflux—Adult

    (VUR; Reflux Nephropathy; Chronic Atrophic Pyelonephritis; Vesico-Ureteric Reflux; Ureteral Reflux)


    Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) is the backward flow of urine. The urine flows from the bladder back into the kidney.
    Urine normally flows from the kidneys. It passes through tubes called ureters. It then flows into the bladder. Each ureter connects to the bladder in a way that prevents urine from flowing back up the ureter. The connection is similar to a 1-way valve. When this does not work properly, or if the ureters do not extend far enough into the bladder, urine may flow back up to the kidney. If the urine contains bacteria, the kidney may become infected. The back up can also put extra pressure on the kidney, causing damage or kidney failure.
    Anatomy of the Urinary System
    The Urinary Tract
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    VUR may be caused by:
    • A problem in the way the ureter inserts into the bladder
    • A ureter that does not extend far enough into the bladder
    • A bladder outlet obstruction, such as a blockage of urine flow from an enlarged prostate gland
    • A neurogenic bladder—loss of normal bladder function due to damaged nerves reaching the bladder
    • Kidney transplant

    Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chance of VUR include:
    • Family history
    • Urinary tract defects that are present at birth
    • Birth defects that affect the spinal cord, such as spina bifida
    • Tumors in the spinal cord or pelvis
    • Spinal cord injury


    In most cases, VUR has no obvious symptoms or signs. In some cases, VUR is found after a urinary tract or kidney infection is diagnosed. Symptoms of urinary tract infections include:
    • Frequent and urgent need to urinate
    • Passing small amounts of urine
    • Pain in the abdomen or pelvic area
    • Burning sensation during urination
    • Cloudy, bad-smelling urine
    • Increased need to get up at night to urinate
    • Blood in the urine
    • Leaking urine
    • Low back pain or pain along the side of the ribs
    • Fever and chills


    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
    Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
    • Blood tests
    • Urine tests
    The urinary tract can be evaluated with imaging tests, which may include:
    • CT scan
    • Ultrasound
    • Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG)
    • Intravenous pyelogram
    • Nuclear scans


    The goal for treatment of VUR is to prevent any permanent kidney damage. Treatment options include the following:


    Endoscopic Injection Into the Ureter
    This procedure is a minimally invasive surgery. It is done to correct the reflux. A material is injected where the ureter inserts into the bladder. This can prevent urine from going back up the ureter. This procedure is done through a small tube called a cystoscope.
    Ureteral Reimplantation
    This surgery repositions the ureters in the bladder. It can be done in 2 ways. One way requires making an incision above the pubic bone and repositioning the ureters in the bladder. It can also be done laparoscopically by inserting cameras through small incisions in the abdomen and/or bladder to perform the surgery.


    VUR cannot be prevented in most cases. However, further complications can be avoided. Seek prompt treatment for bladder or kidney infections. This is particularly important if you have a neurogenic bladder.


    National Kidney Foundation http://www.kidney.org

    Urology Care Foundation http://www.urologyhealth.org


    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

    The Kidney Foundation of Canada http://www.kidney.ca


    Valla JS, Steyaert H, et al. Transvesicoscopic Cohen ureteric reimplantation for vesicoureteral reflux in children: A single-centre 5-year experience. J Pediatr Urol. 2009;5(6):466-471.

    Vesicoureteral reflux. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115170/Community-acquired-pneumonia-in-adults. Updated May 23, 2016. Accessed June 1, 2016.

    Vesicoureteral reflux. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/urologic-disease/vesicoureteral-reflux-vur/Pages/facts.aspx. Updated June 2012. Accessed June 1, 2016.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.