Information on conditions unique to girls and young women can be found at
Urinary reflux, also called vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), describes backward flow of urine through the ureters that run from the kidneys to the bladder. Urinary reflux can be present either at birth (primary) or develop as the child grows (secondary).
Primary urinary reflux is more common than secondary. Children born with urinary reflux have a defect in a valve that is supposed to prevent urine from flowing out of the bladder and into the ureters. Children often outgrow primary urinary reflux as the ureters get longer and straighter. However, urinary reflux can cause permanent kidney damage.
The pediatric urologists with Norton Children’s Urology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, are fellowship trained and experienced in providing urology care to children and teens. Norton Children’s urologists bring skill, respect and sensitivity to caring for your child’s urological needs.
Age, assigned gender at birth and family history are three of the most important factors used to determine a child’s risk for urinary reflux. Children younger than age 2 are much more likely to have the condition than older children. Primary urinary reflux affects children assigned male at birth more often, but secondary urinary reflux is more common among children assigned female at birth. About 1 in 4 siblings of children with the condition also have it. About 1 in 3 children with the condition have a parent who had it as well.
Kidney scarring, high blood pressure and kidney failure are the most severe complications of urinary reflux. The most common complication is a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Diagnosing Urinary Reflux
A voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) test uses catheters and X-rays to show any irregular urine flow and help diagnose urinary reflux.
Treating urinary reflux can include behavior changes, medication and surgery to prevent damage to the kidneys. Your child’s pediatric urologist will work with you and will recommend the best treatment option considering your child’s health history, age and other factors.
UTIs in infants may be more difficult to notice. If you believe your baby or child may have a UTI, see your child’s health care provider to ensure the condition does not worsen.
Untreated UTIs can lead to kidney infections, which may cause permanent scarring in the kidneys.