Megaureter is a ureter that is much wider than normal. The ureters are the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. A ureter that is wider than 3/8 inch is a megaureter. A megaureter may not drain urine normally. Urine may back up into the kidneys. This can lead to infections and kidney damage.
A megaureter occurs when a baby is growing in the uterus. A normal ureter has a layer of muscle tissue. This muscle layer helps send urine down the tube with movement called peristalsis. But part of this layer may be replaced with stiff, fibrous tissue instead. This prevents normal peristalsis. A megaureter may also occur if there is a blockage stopping urine from entering the bladder. This causes a backflow of urine toward the kidney, widening the ureter.
A megaureter can occur on its own without other existing conditions. But it often occurs along with other problems, such as prune belly syndrome.
Symptoms can be a bit different for each child. They can include:
The symptoms of megaureter can seem like other health conditions. Take your child to their healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Often a megaureter is diagnosed by ultrasound while a woman is still pregnant. After birth, some babies have other problems that mean they may have a megaureter. Children who are diagnosed later often have urinary tract infections (UTIs). The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. They will give your child a physical exam. Your child may also have tests, such as:
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Your child may need to take antibiotics to prevent urinary tract infections. In some cases, the megaureter will go back to normal on its own over time. If there is a blockage of the urinary tract, your child may need surgery. The surgery removes the part of the ureter that is abnormal.
Talk with your child’s healthcare providers about the risks, benefits and possible side effects of all treatments.
Possible complications of megaureter include:
Call the healthcare provider if your child has:
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At Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., our pediatric urologists provide comprehensive care for disorders affecting reproductive and urinary organs.