Ectopic ureters (EU) are a congenital abnormality characterized by termination of one or both ureters at a point distal to the neck of the bladder. The flow of urine bypasses the bladder and affected animals typically leak urine from birth. Almost 90% percent of canine EU occurs in females and at least 25% of these are bilateral. This condition should be suspected in any female puppy that has been dribbling urine since birth.
What Are Ectopic Ureters (EU)?
The ureters are tubes that allow urine to travel from the kidneys to the bladder. Normally, the ureters enter the bladder allowing it to store the liquid until there is an appropriate opportunity to urinate. Essentially, ectopic ureters leave from the kidneys but to not correctly empty into the bladder. The flow of urine bypasses the bladder and affected animals typically leak urine from birth. Almost 90% percent of canine EU occurs in females and at least 25% of these are bilateral. This condition should be suspected in any female puppy that has been dribbling urine since birth. The diagnosis of ectopic ureters historically was made by performing radiographic studies (“x-rays”); however, in university studies, these “x-rays” were successful in identifying only 70% of cases. Today, the insertion of a small camera up the urethra and into the bladder has been shown to correctly identify 100% of ectopic ureters.
There are two kinds of ectopic ureters.
The first bypasses the bladder altogether and enter at the urethra or vagina. Surgery is required in these cases to establish normal anatomy and bladder function.
The second type, called an intramural ectopic ureter, attaches to the urinary bladder at the correct place, but then tunnels down the wall of the urethra before emptying. These intramural ectopic ureters are common and can be corrected using non-surgical Laser techniques. First, a small camera (~2 mm in diameter) is inserted up the urethra and into the bladder. Then a Laser is used to correct the ureter so that it opens into the bladder. No incisions are made so recovery is immediate and many pets gain urinary continence immediately following this procedure.
If you have a pet to be evaluated for ectopic ureters or for Laser correction procedure, please contact our urology/nephrology team at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine at (225) 578-9600.