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Learning about Pyeloplasty in Children

Location of kidneys, ureter, and bladder, with detail of cross section showing where the ureter attaches to the kidney

What is it?

Pyeloplasty (say "PY-loh-plas-tee") is a surgery. It is used to correct a blockage in the flow of urine where a ureter meets the kidney. The ureters are small tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

When a ureter doesn't connect to the kidney correctly, urine can't flow out of the kidney to the bladder. This can cause the kidney to swell. And it can lead to infections and kidney damage. Surgery helps prevent these problems.

How is this surgery done?

Before surgery, your child will get medicine to make him or her sleep.

The surgery may be either "open" or "laparoscopic." Open surgery is done through a large cut (incision). Laparoscopic surgery is done through several small cuts. The doctor puts a lighted scope and other surgical tools through the cuts. The doctor can see your child's kidney and ureter with the scope.

The location of the cuts depends on the type of surgery. It also depends on the kind of blockage your child has. Cuts could be near your child's waist, on the front, side, or lower back.

The doctor removes the blockage. Then the doctor attaches the ureter to the kidney so that urine can flow to the bladder.

When the surgery is finished, the doctor closes the cuts with stitches or staples.

What can you expect after the surgery?

Your child may have a tube called a stent to help keep the ureter open. He or she may also have a drain to help fluids drain from the wound.

Your child will have scars that will likely fade over time.

You will get instructions about how to care for your child at home. These instructions will include how to care for the incisions and the drain and what problems to look out for. You'll also learn about when it's okay for your child to bathe or shower and when he or she can return to normal activities.

You will also be told when to return for follow-up care. This care includes visits for removing the drain or stent.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

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