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Journal of Indian Association of Pediatric Surgeons
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Year : 2007  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 202-205

Single system ectopic ureter in females: A single center study

Department of Pediatric Surgery, IMS, BHU, Varanasi, India

Correspondence Address:
Vijay D Upadhyaya
Department of Pediatric Surgery, IMS, BHU, Varanasi - 221 005, UP
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-9261.40835

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The purpose of this study was to inquire into the clinical features and methods for the diagnosis and management of single-system ectopic ureters associated with renal dysplasia. Materials and Methods: A total of 13 female patients were studied. Main stay of diagnosis was ultrasonography of KUB region and intravenous urography and renal scan was used to confirm the diagnosis. Histopathological evaluation was done in all cases for documentation of renal dysplasia. Result: In eight cases ectopic ureter with dysplastic kidney was seen on left side and in five it was on right side. All the patients were treated with nephroureterectomy of the affected side because of poor functioning of ipsilateral dysplastic kidney. Conclusion: Continuous urinary incontinence in females with a normal voiding pattern should prompt an evaluation for ureteric ectopia and when initial evaluation yields diagnosis of solitary kidney the clinician should be aware of the possibility of a hypoplastic and/or dysplastic on one side and normally functioning kidney on opposite side. Nephroureterectomy is the treatment of choice for unilateral single system ectopic ureter with renal dysplasia of affected side.

Keywords: Dysplastic kidney, females, nephroureterectomy, single system ectopic ureter

How to cite this article:
Gangopadhyaya A N, Upadhyaya VD, Pandey A, Gupta D K, Gopal S C, Sharma S P, Kumar V. Single system ectopic ureter in females: A single center study. J Indian Assoc Pediatr Surg 2007;12:202-5

How to cite this URL:
Gangopadhyaya A N, Upadhyaya VD, Pandey A, Gupta D K, Gopal S C, Sharma S P, Kumar V. Single system ectopic ureter in females: A single center study. J Indian Assoc Pediatr Surg [serial online] 2007 [cited 2023 Jan 31];12:202-5. Available from: https://www.jiaps.com/text.asp?2007/12/4/202/40835

   Introduction Top

An ectopic ureter is defined as an ectopic ureteric orifice outside the posterolateral extremity of the bladder trigone. [1] An ectopic ureter that inserts either into the urethra distal to the sphincter or into the vagina in a girl typically presents with continuous wetting despite an otherwise normal micturition pattern. In most cases, the ectopic ureter arises from the upper moiety of a duplex kidney and detecting such an ectopic system is relatively straightforward. However, in a small proportion of patients the ectopic ureter may arise from a small, dysplastic and poorly functioning kidney. In general, 80% of ectopic ureters arise from the upper pole of a completely duplicated system. Ectopic ureters draining single systems are rare [2],[3] occurring only in 20% cases. [4] Successful removal of the dysplastic kidney with its draining ureter results in immediate and complete cure of the incontinence problem. However, the small nonfunctioning kidney, which can often be ectopic, may defy detection even with repeated examinations using conventional imaging modalities and cystourethrovaginoscopy under anaesthesia, thus leading to a significant delay in the correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Though this moiety is more common in male, but contrary to the literature we have encountered all 13 cases in female patients during this period. We retrospectively analyzed the clinical features and methods for the diagnosis and management of single-system ectopic ureters associated with renal dysplasia.

   Materials and Methods Top

The study was carried out at the university hospital BHU, Varanasi. A total of 13 females of single system ectopic ureter associated with dysplastic kidney were admitted from 1995 to 2005. In a retrospective review, the case notes, including presentations, findings on examination, imaging studies, operative details, pathology findings and postoperative outcomes, were studied. All patients were subjected to intravenous urography (IVU), ultrasound and renal scan. Prior to exploration, cystourethrovaginoscopy was done in all patients after filling the bladder with methylene blue dye either via per urethral route or by suprapubic approach under general anesthesia and exploration was performed in all 13 patients [Table - 1] and renal dysplasia was further confirmed by pathologic examination.

   Results Top

All the patients were girls, with a median age of 2.5 years (range four months to three years). Eight cases occurred on the left and five on the right side. The patients had developed and grown normally, presented with wetting as well as normal voiding. They had the same volume of dribbling during the daytime as well as in night, without any relation to position. Two patients had history of abdominal pain. None of them presented with features of urinary tract infection. Methylene blue test was positive in 10 cases.

All the patients were examined by ultrasonography, intravenous urography and renal scan [Table - 1]. Intravenous urography showed very poor function of affected kidney in nine cases where as in four cases it was non conclusive however hypertrophy of contralateral kidney was observed in 30.7% of cases only. Renal scan was done in all cases for confirmation as well as for decision making. In renal scan, affected kidney was visualized in 12 cases (differential function was ranging form 1-7% in affected kidney) and in one case affected kidney was not visualized. Perineal examination including vaginocystoscopy revealed ectopic opening in vagina in five cases, in four cases the ectopic opening was present in vestibule whereas in one case, the opening was present in urethra and was not visualized in three cases. However methylene blue test showed clear fluid in perineum which indirectly confirms that ectopic opening is outside the sphincter.

All patients underwent nephroureterectomy of the affected side. In five cases the affected kidney was present at its normal position and in eight cases it was present in pelvis. The size of affected kidney in all cases was very small ranging from 3 × 2 × 1 cm to 4.2 × 2.6 × 1.5 cm [Table - 1]. During operation we were not able to identify renal vein and artery separately and mass ligature was done in nine cases where as in four cases both of them were ligated individually.

Dribbling and wetting disappeared right after operation. All patients recovered well and were discharged on the fifth to seventh postoperative day. At follow-up after one to seven years, they had developed normally. The pathology examination reported renal dysplasia.

   Discussion Top

Urinary incontinence is a common symptom in children; under most circumstances it is caused by functional disturbances of the detrusor-sphincter complex, the treatment outcome of which is often unpredictable. Wetting from organic causes, e.g. infrasphincteric ureteric ectopia, is much less common but is particularly important because of the potential for immediate cure by surgical intervention. A typical history of continuous or intermittent dribbling of urine despite an otherwise normal pattern of voiding, often starting in early childhood, should prompt a clinical suspicion of an ectopic ureter. The diagnosis can be further affirmed by a simple wet-pad test for dribbling of clear urine after the introduction of methylene blue into the bladder.

As per the literature single-system ectopic ureter are more common in male. [5],[6] We are presenting a series of 13 cases in females and contrary to literature we have not encountered any male patient during this period. Such ectopic ureters are frequently found in association with VACTERL syndrome [2],[7] though we observed this association in only 15.45% of cases. A small, dysplastic, poorly-functioning single kidney associated with an ectopic ureter may be difficult to localize, leading to delay in diagnosis or even to misdiagnosis as a solitary kidney. In the present series most of affected kidneys were localized by renal scan which also help in decision making of the management.

The etiology of renal dysplasia is not yet quite clear. The presumed embryologic mechanism is that the ureteric bud arises more craniad than usual from the mesonephric duct, [8] so that it is taken into the bladder wall at a lower level during the seventh week of gestation or does not join the bladder wall at all. Maizels and Stephens postulated that abnormal growth of the spine precludes normal renal ascent and may even be responsible for renal agenesis and hypoplasia. [9] The ostium localizes along a defined pathway from the bladder neck to the seminal vesicles in males where as it opens into the mesonephric duct remnants in females. This abnormal location of the ureteral bud probably leads to abnormal interaction with nephrogenic blastema and renal dysplasia. [5],[10],[11],[12] Therefore, an ectopic ureter is frequently associated with ectopia of the corresponding kidney and a variable degree of renal dysplasia. [8] It is also postulated that failure of vascular supply during embryologic development prevents the kidney from developing normally and causes formation of a small primary organ that contains embryonal tissues. Some researchers believe that it is the obstruction of the ureter during an early phase of the embryo that stops development of the kidney. [13] All 13 cases had renal dysplasia, in five cases kidney was located at normal site whereas in eight cases it was at lower location, ureter was narrow, non fibrosed and non obstructive, except in one case where the ureter was dilated and tortuous.

Depending on the location of the ostium, ectopic ureters may produce a highly variable clinical character which delays the diagnosis and therapeutic result. An ectopic opening into the bladder neck may produce obstructive uropathy, vesicoureteral reflux, recurrent infections or enuresis ureterica; that is, urinary dribbling associated with an otherwise normal voiding pattern results from ectopia distal to the bladder sphincter in female patients. [13],[14]

Highlights of clinical and pathologic features in our series are: A) Our series consists of all girls, similar to reports by Chowdhary et al. [15] and Li et al. [16] though others had reported that single-system ureteral ectopia is more commonly in males. [6] B) All the patients were under the age of three years of which two were infants. C) in 38% of cases, kidney was located at normal position. Was not dilated, distorted or fibrosed in 12 cases. D) Strong association with ipsilateral renal dysplasia noted by others was confirmed in our series. [6],[16],[17],[18],[19] E) The ureter orifice was ectopic but the ureter was not dilated or distorted, not fibrosed in 12 cases, which is different from the dilated and distorted ectopic ureter seen with duplex system. F) We used IVU primarily for locating the kidney as well as for contralateral functional hypertrophy and renal scan to confirm the diagnosis which also helps in decision making of the management, where as other have used computed tomography for the same. G) Except for mild wetting and dribbling, these patients had no other symptoms and the severity of wetting and dribbling was far milder than that of patients with duplicated kidney (indirect evidence of dysplastic kidney) and an ectopic ureter.

Intravenous urography and ultrasonography are the most common examinations for diagnosis of ectopic ureter. In the present series in six cases, affected kidney was localized by ultrasonography whereas Borer et al. were not able to detect single ectopic kidney in their series though Li J et al. [16] were able to locate the kidney in seven out of eight of the cases. In present series in 61% cases the affected kidney was located by IVU which is contrary to the report of Li J et al. Kawamura N et al. [20] used renal scan where IVU was not able to detect the ectopic kidney in the cases of poor functioning single ectopic ureter but in our series all of these patients were examined by renal scan which also helped us in decision making. Recently laparoscopy is used to localize the position of ectopic kidney and was able to detect the position of ectopic kidney in all cases.

Treatment can be in form of ureteral reimplantation when relative renal function is 10% or more [3] or nephroureterectomy when relative renal function is less than 10% [16],[21] . In patients with bilateral anomalies or marginal renal function, reimplantation is of choice for salvaging renal mass. [22] In our series, excision was a simple and valid treatment. Before ureteronephrectomy, it is better to fill the bladder with methylene blue saline either via a thin needle or perurethrally and observe whether blue liquid comes from the perineum so as to confirm the diagnosis. Because the dysplastic kidney is usually located abnormally in the retroperitoneum below the normal kidney location, care is needed not to misdiagnose it as a solitary kidney by exploring only the normal kidney location near the lumbar vertebrae. [23],[24] Its merits include minor trauma, less time spent, rapid recovery, short hospitalization and low cost and it may be especially suitable when the precise location of the dysplastic kidney cannot be predicted preoperatively.

   Conclusion Top

Continuous urinary incontinence in females with a normal voiding pattern should prompt an evaluation for ureteric ectopia. When the initial evaluation yields the diagnosis of a solitary kidney, clinicians should be aware of the possibility of a hypoplastic and/or dysplastic, often ectopic, contralateral kidney with an ectopically draining ureter. Nephroureterectomy is the treatment of choice for unilateral single system ectopic ureter with renal dysplasia of affected side.

   References Top

1.Greene LF. Ureteral ectopy in females. Clin Obstet Gynaecol 1967;10:147-50.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Blane CE, Ritchey ML, DiPietro MA, Sumida R, Bloom DA. Single system ectopic ureters and ureteroceles associated with dysplastickidneys. Pediatr Radiol 1992;22:217-20.  Back to cited text no. 2  [PUBMED]  
3.Ahmed SA, Barker A. Single system ectopic ureters: A review of 12 cases. J Pediatr Surg 1992;27:491-6.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.McSynder H. Anomalies of the ureter. In : Gillenwater JY, Howards SS, Duckett JW, editors. Adult and pediatric urology. St. Louis: Mosby Year Book; 1991. p. 1831-62.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Johnston JH, Davenport TJ. The single ectopic ureter. Br J Urol 1969;41:428-33.  Back to cited text no. 5  [PUBMED]  
6.Scott JE. The single ectopic ureter and the dysplastic kidney. Br J Urol 1981;53:300-5.  Back to cited text no. 6  [PUBMED]  
7.Johnson DK, Perlmutter AD. Single system ectopic ureters and ureteroceles with anomalies of the heart, testis and vas deferens. J Urol 1980;123:81-3.  Back to cited text no. 7  [PUBMED]  
8.Parrott TS, Gray SW, Skandalakis JE. Bladder and urethra. In : Skandalakis JE, Gray SW, editors. Embryology for surgeons, 2 nd ed. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins; 1994. p. 695-700.  Back to cited text no. 8    
9.Maizels M, Stephens FD. The induction of urologic malformation: Understanding the relationship of renal ectopia and congenital scoliosis. Invest Urol 1979;17:209-17.  Back to cited text no. 9  [PUBMED]  
10.Schwarz RD, Stephens FD, Cussen LJ. The pathogenesis of renal dysplasia: The significance of lateral and medial ectopy of the ureteral orifice. Invest Urol 1981;19:97-100.  Back to cited text no. 10  [PUBMED]  
11.Meyer R. Normal and abnormal development of the urinary tract in the human embryo: A mechanistic consideration. Anat Rec 1946;96:355.  Back to cited text no. 11    
12.Tanagho EA. Embryologic basis for lower ureteral anomalies: A hypothesis. Urology 1976;7:451-64.  Back to cited text no. 12    
13.Thomas DF, Fitzpatrick MM. Unilateral multicystic dysplastic kidney. Arch Dis Child 1997;77:368-9.  Back to cited text no. 13  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
14.Gotoh T, Koyanagi T. Clinicopathological and embryological considerations of single ectopic ureters opening into Gardner's duct cyst: A unique subtype of single vaginal ectopia. J Urol 1987;137:969-72.  Back to cited text no. 14  [PUBMED]  
15.Chowdhary SK, Lander A, Parashar K, Corkery JJ. Single-system ectopic ureter: A 15-year review. Pediatr Surg Int 2001;17:638-41.  Back to cited text no. 15  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
16.Li J, Hu T, Wang M, Jiang X, Chen S, Huang L. Single ureteral ectopia with congenital renal dysplasia. J Urol 2003;170:558-9.  Back to cited text no. 16  [PUBMED]  
17.Mathews R, Jeffs RD, Maizels M, Palmer LS, Docimo SG. Single system ureteral ectopia in boys associated with bladder outlet obstruction. J Urol 1999;161:1297-300.  Back to cited text no. 17  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
18.Sun WR, Han MS, Zhang FY. Clinical analysis of 24 cases ectopic ureter in children. Zhong Hua Xiao Er Wai Ke Zha Zhi 1992;13:281-2.  Back to cited text no. 18    
19.Moores D, Cohen R, Hayden L. Laparoscopic excision of pelvic kidney with single vaginal ectopic ureter. J Pediatr Surg 1997;32:634-5.  Back to cited text no. 19  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
20.Kawamura N, Okumura S, Nishimura T, Akimoto M. The ectopic ureter: A report of 7 cases. Hinyokika Kiyo 1985;31:1183-8.  Back to cited text no. 20  [PUBMED]  
21.Borer JG, Bauer SB, Peters CA, Diamond DA, Decler RM, Shapiro EA. A single system ectopic ureter draining an ectopic dysplastic kidney: Delayed diagnosis in the young female with continuous urinary incontinence. Br J Urol 1998;81:474-8.  Back to cited text no. 21    
22.Wunsch L, Hubner U, Halsband H. Long-term results of treatment of single-system ectopic ureters. Pediatr Surg Int 2000;16:493-7.  Back to cited text no. 22    
23.Kim HH, Kang J, Kwak C, Byun SS, Oh SJ, Choi H. Laparoscopy for definite localization and simultaneous treatment of ectopic ureter draining a dysplastic kidney in children. J Endourol 2002;16:363-6.  Back to cited text no. 23  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
24.Kurokawa Y, Kanayama HO, Anwar A, Fukumori T, Yamamoto Y, Takahashi M, et al . Laparoscopic nephroureterectomy for dysplastic kidney in children: An initial experience. Int J Urol 2002;9:613-7.  Back to cited text no. 24  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]


  [Table - 1]

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