The general signs of ectopic ureter are:
- Incontinence (bladder control problems with leaking)
- Swelling in the abdomen
- Urinary tract infections (UTI)
- Vesicoureteral Reflux (VUR)
A blocked ureter or incontinence (leaking urine) can be signs of an ectopic ureter.
- Boys with ectopic ureters do not often have incontinence, since the ureter drains inside the body. But they may still have signs of swelling or a UTI.
- Girls with ectopic ureters may leak urine since the ureter drains into or near the vagina. This problem is clear after toilet training. It is unlike other types of incontinence. Instead, there is a general, all-over moistness rather than events where the bladder looses control. Some girls will be treated with drugs and other things for many years before the right diagnosis is made.
The ureter and part of the kidney can swell when it cannot drain properly. This is called hydronephrosis and it is easy to see on ultrasound.
In many babies, an ectopic ureter is found when the pregnant mother has a prenatal ultrasound. But not all ectopic ureters are swollen, so other tools may be better for a clear diagnosis.
Urinary Tract Infection
Poor drainage from an ectopic ureter may make children more likely to have UTIs. A UTI is when bacteria gets into the urine and travels up to the bladder. It becomes painful to urinate.
Vesicoureteral Reflux (VUR)
In boys with an ectopic ureter, there may also be a slight flaw in the ureter. This can result in VUR. VUR is when some urine flows backward into the kidney when the bladder fills or empties. This makes the risk of kidney infections higher. It is one more reason some children with ectopic ureters show signs of a UTI.