Ureteropelvic junction (UPJ) obstruction

Norton Children’s Urology staff physicians in Louisville are fellowship trained in pediatric and adolescent urology specialty care. They have the expertise to provide a precise diagnosis and determine whether your child’s ureteropelvic junction (UPJ) obstruction requires treatment. If treatment is required, our urologists will work with you to customize a treatment plan.

We have state-of-the-art equipment that is unavailable elsewhere in Louisville. We also are able to provide sedation.

Our specialists bring skill, respect and sensitivity to caring for your child’s urological needs.

The UPJ is located where the kidney (which produces urine) meets the ureter (the tube that drains urine into the bladder). A blockage in that area can slow or completely prevent the flow of urine.

Many UPJ blockages are small enough that they won’t damage your child’s kidney. However, severe blockages can impair the kidney’s ability to drain urine, which can lead to permanent damage if not treated.

UPJ obstruction causes and symptoms

The exact cause of UPJ obstructions is not known. The condition often is present at birth, and a routine prenatal ultrasound may reveal it. Many UPJ blockages can resolve on their own.

UPJ obstruction can occur later in life, though it’s far less common. When this does occur, causes may include compression of the ureter due to inflammation, kidney stones, scar tissue, abnormal blood vessels or a tumor.

Most obstructions are detected during a prenatal ultrasound. For those that occur later or are not detected at birth, symptoms suggesting UPJ obstruction include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Kidney infections
  • Kidney stones
  • Abdominal or flank pain

UPJ obstruction treatment

Our team will determine the best course of treatment for your child based on the severity of the UPJ obstruction.

If the obstruction is mild or moderate, your child may not experience any symptoms and may outgrow the blockage without treatment. In such cases, we may simply monitor your child to see if the obstruction corrects itself and to ensure it doesn’t worsen over time.

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary because of the potential for kidney damage. A surgical procedure that removes the blockage often can be done in a minimally invasive procedure with a very high success rate.

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