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Understanding & Navigating Vesicoureteral Reflux

Jun 26, 2024 5:22:10 PM / by Amy Landrum, AGNP-C CWOCN

Amy Landrum, AGNP-C CWOCN

Blog Pic_Vesicouretal Reflex

What is Vesicoureteral Reflux (VUR)?

Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) is a condition where urine flows in the wrong direction, so instead of flowing from the kidney into the bladder and staying put, the urine flows backwards towards the kidney.

This condition is most frequently seen in babies and young children and is commonly caused by neural tube defects like spina bifida or urinary tract abnormalities. It may also have a genetic component, as individuals who experience VUR are more likely to have family members with the same condition.

Children with spina bifida or other conditions causing neurogenic bladder dysfunction are more likely to experience VUR. This is because nerve problems prevent the bladder from relaxing and contracting normally. If the bladder does not relax as it fills, urine has nowhere to go. If the bladder contracts inappropriately, the urine may back up into the kidneys.

If your child experiences frequent urinary tract infections, assessment for VUR may be recommended, especially if your child also has disorders that impact the nervous system or known urinary tract deformity. This condition is often diagnosed by urologists using abdominal ultrasounds or special x-rays to look at the urinary tract and assess the flow pattern of urine, which can help them determine if VUR is present. Some VUR cases resolve on their own, while other situations require corrective procedures addressing the urinary tract that is causing the urine to flow backwards.

VUR and Urinary Tract Infections

 If your child has been diagnosed with VUR, it is important to know that this condition can increase the risk of urinary tract infection (UTI) due to the urinary tract’s inability to empty normally. Individuals who both use intermittent catheters and have VUR are at a particularly elevated risk of UTI. This is because bacteria introduced from the catheter may be more likely to reach the kidneys due to urine flowing backwards. With these individuals, use of a closed system catheter may be helpful, as it may reduce the number of bacteria introduced into the bladder with each catheterization.

Closed system catheters are intermittent catheters with unique features that reduce bacterial contamination. They are designed to be “touch-free,” keeping the catheter from encountering dirty hands or surfaces as it is inserted. Also, they often include a drainage bag that collects the urine. If your child has VUR and uses intermittent catheters, talk to your doctor about closed system catheters to see if this would be a good option to try.

ABC Medical has many closed system catheters to choose from, so please give us a call to see if we have something that might work for you. We can also help determine if your insurance will cover closed system catheters. While Medicare plans will cover closed system catheters if there is medical diagnosis of VUR confirmed by radiological testing, non-Medicare plans may have different coverage criteria. As insurance experts, our team can help you navigate coverage options and look forward to helping you find the best catheter to fit your child’s needs.

Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For medical advice, please speak with your healthcare provider.


Vesicoureteral Reflux. National Institute of Health - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Published June, 2018. Accessed February 19, 2024. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/hydronephrosis-newborns/vesicoureteral-reflux

Topics: Health Tips, Living Well, Bladder Health

Amy Landrum, AGNP-C CWOCN

Written by Amy Landrum, AGNP-C CWOCN

As a nurse practitioner and WOCN specializing in wound, ostomy, and continence care, Amy brings a wealth of clinical experience in hospital, rehabilitation, and home health settings. Amy is passionate about helping patients navigate the healthcare system and obtain the resources they need.

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