Healthy kidneys filter waste from the blood, producing urine which normally flows only one direction: down the ureters and into the bladder. When something is wrong with the connection between the ureter and the bladder, the urine may flow back up (reflux) from the bladder to the ureters and at times to the kidneys.
If you have had VUR as a child, there is a chance that your children will have the condition. In addition, if one of your children has it, his or her brothers and sisters may also have the condition, too.
Infrequent or incomplete urination, as well as constipation, are also associated with VUR. Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs) may indicate the presence of VUR.
How is VUR diagnosed and treated?
Your Nemours pediatric urologist may order a test called a voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) that uses X-rays and a special dye to show how your child’s bladder is working. This test can help determine if your child has VUR.
VUR is graded on a scale from I (mild) to V (severe). Many times, milder grades of VUR will go away on their own as your child grows and develops. However, UTIs in the presence of VUR can cause kidney infections, which can lead to scarring and sometimes result in kidney damage.
Depending on the severity of the VUR, your Nemours urologist may discuss several treatment options for your child, including antibiotics to prevent infections, surgery to repair the ureters, or endoscopic treatment in which a small telescope is inserted through the bladder and a gel is placed at the point where the ureter meets the bladder.
A urine protein test measures the total amount of protein in the urine. Once a urine sample is collected, the lab determines the amount of protein in the urine sample. This test is often done as part of a routine urinalysis in which several chemicals in the urine are measured.
Why It's Done
In most healthy people, the kidneys prevent significant amounts of protein from entering the urine, so the urine protein test is most commonly used to screen for kidney disease. It's also used to monitor kidney function in kids already diagnosed with kidney disease or who are taking medications that can affect the kidneys.
Abnormal results also may point to diseases affecting other parts of the body. Other tests may be needed before a definite diagnosis can be made.
Before the test, your child might need to temporarily stop taking specific drugs that could interfere with results. Be sure to discuss this with your doctor.
Collecting the specimen should only take a few minutes. Your child will be asked to urinate into a clean sample cup in the doctor's office. If your child isn't potty trained and can't urinate into a cup, a small catheter may need to be inserted into the bladder to obtain the urine specimen.
Alternatively, a urine collection bag with adhesive tape on one end might be used to collect a sample from an infant. You'll clean your baby's genital area and then arrange the bag around the urinary opening. Once the bag is in place, you'll secure it with the attached tape. You can then put a diaper on your baby. Remove the collection bag once your baby has urinated into it, usually within an hour. Deliver this specimen to the lab.
If you take the specimen at home, follow any storage and transportation instructions the lab gives you.
What to Expect
Because the test involves normal urination, there shouldn't be any discomfort as long as your child can provide a urine specimen.
Getting the Results
The results of the urine protein test should be available within a day. Your doctor will go over the results with you and explain what they mean. If the results are abnormal, further tests may be ordered.
No risks are associated with taking a urine protein test. Infants may occasionally experience skin irritation from the adhesive tape on the collection bag. If a catheter is used to obtain the urine, it may cause temporary discomfort. If you have any questions or concerns about this procedure, talk to your doctor.
Helping Your Child
The urine protein test is painless. Explaining how the test will be conducted and why it's being done can help ease any fear. Make sure your child understands that there should be no foreign matter, such as toilet paper or hair, in the sample.
If You Have Questions
If you have questions about the urine protein test, speak with your doctor.