Pediatric Urology

At the Henry Ford Vattikuti Urology Institute, we know how important your child is and that, unfortunately, urologic problems are not just found in adults. That’s why our renowned specialists treat a variety of pediatric conditions for all ages. We offer the latest diagnostic tools and treatments — including robotic-assisted surgery, a service not offered elsewhere in the region for young children.

Why choose Henry Ford VUI for pediatric urology?

Our program boasts years of experience and a proven track record. We offer:

  • Excellent outpatient and inpatient care
  • Top surgical resources, including a dedicated pediatric surgical unit at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital with a full-time urologist
  • High patient satisfaction scores
  • The latest clinical trials, including treatment for varicocele, as well as robotic-assisted and other minimally invasive techniques
  • A team approach, with our pediatric urologists collaborating with other top specialists in the Henry Ford Health:
    • Neonatologists
    • Pediatricians
    • Endocrinologists
    • Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeons
    • Neurologists
  • An emphasis on making children comfortable, including sedation for one of our most common diagnostic tests

Robotic-assisted surgery and other minimally invasive techniques

The dedicated pediatric robotic team at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital has been performing safe and successful surgeries since the hospital opened in 2009. Part of Henry Ford VUI, they’re also the only team between Chicago and Pittsburgh that accepts patients under 12.

Minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery is used to correct kidney, bladder and ureter abnormalities and is as safe and effective as traditional open surgery, while providing particular benefits:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Faster recovery
  • Less pain

Our surgeons also offer other minimally invasive approaches using laparoscopic techniques.

Pediatric urologic conditions we treat

Our urologists treat a wide range of pediatric conditions. Learn more about the problems they see most commonly:

Urology problems In boys and girls

  • Congenital urinary tract malformations: Urinary tract problems are usually detectable in prenatal ultrasounds and may require surgical repairs after birth.
  • Ureteropelvic junction (UPJ): An obstruction where the ureter meets the kidney, it can develop as the kidney forms in the womb. It’s usually diagnosed during prenatal ultrasounds, and we can repair it surgically after birth, often with a robotic-assisted procedure.
  • Multicystic dysplastic kidney: Abnormal fetal development can leave a child with a collection of cysts instead of a kidney. The problem is usually detectable on prenatal ultrasounds, with two options after birth — careful monitoring to watch for complications, or surgery, usually with a robotic-assisted approach.
  • Duplication anomalies: Children are sometimes born with extra urinary tract parts — including a penis, kidney, bladder, ureter or urethra. The duplicative part often needs to be removed, and our surgeons provide robotic-assisted surgery when possible.
  • Hydronephrosis: When urine backs up, it can cause the kidney to swell. The problem is usually caused by a blockage like ureteropelvic junction obstruction or vesicoureteral reflux and is diagnosed in the womb or at birth. Surgery is usually only needed for severe cases. We offer counseling for prenatal cases.
  • Hematuria: Blood in the urine is either easily spotted (gross hematuria) or microscopic. There are many possible causes, but it’s usually harmless and easily treated.
  • Urinary tract infections: Occasionally a child can develop a urinary tract infection from bacteria. It’s important to come in right away to avoid chronic problems or damage to the kidney, so watch for urine with blood or a bad odor, or a persistent change in urination. We typically prescribe antibiotics and take X-rays to make sure there are no functional or structural problems.
  • Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR): Urine can sometimes travel backward because of a problem with the flap between the ureter and bladder, usually from a birth defect. The problem may get diagnosed if your child comes in for a urinary tract infection. We can fix the flap with medication or surgery, though many children outgrow the problem and just require protection of the kidneys from infection.
  • Bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis): Bedwetting is more common in boys and is experienced by a quarter of children past age 3 — though the problem usually stops by adolescence. The exact cause remains unknown, but the child has no control over it, so we urge a consultation with our doctors rather than punishment. We offer two treatments:
    • Medications: Certain drugs can decrease the amount of urine produced at night or curb daytime urgency and incontinence. But medications don’t always cure the problem, and it may also return if they are stopped.
    • Behavior modification: An alarm kit stirs your child at the first sign of wetness and can condition them to wake before an accident. This treatment is the most effective but requires the most effort.
  • Inguinal (groin) hernia and umbilical hernia: In newborns, a loop of intestine can move into an area called the inguinal canal if it does not close properly (more common in boys), or into the space where the umbilical cord was if the abdominal muscles don’t fully fuse together. Inguinal hernias must be repaired surgically, but umbilical hernias can often close on their own.
  • Urinary incontinence: Learn more about our diagnosis and treatment of urinary incontinence.

Urology problems in boys

  • Hypospadias: A congenital condition can cause problems with penis function and appearance, with hooded foreskin, abnormal curvature and a misplaced opening (the urethral) where urine leaves the body. Our surgeons can fix the problem and prefer to do so when boys are between 3 and 18 months, though repairs can take place at any time.
  • Hydrocele: This swelling of the scrotal sac is painless but should get treated in infants, once they are 1 year old. Our urologists can fix the problem with an outpatient procedure.
  • Varicocele: These varicose veins in the scrotum can hinder testicle growth and potentially cause infertility. We can treat them surgically or carefully monitor them.
  • Undescended testes: Testicles should descend between 9 and 12 months, with problems usually caught at regular checkups. The condition should be treated to avoid fertility problems and an increased risk for testicular cancer, with our doctors performing an outpatient procedure called an orchidopexy.
  • Testicle torsion: A testicle can sometimes twist on the cord from which it hangs — most commonly in adolescence but at any age. The problem may not be physically obvious, but is usually accompanied by sudden and severe pain followed by swelling. It’s important to see a doctor for repairs right away because of blocked blood flow. Go to the emergency room when your child is hit with sudden, severe and unexplainable scrotal pain.
  • Penile torsion/curvature: Unusual rotation of the penis can be fixed by our surgeons.
  • Circumcisions and managing complications

Diagnosing pediatric urologic conditions

Our urologists offer all the standard tests for urologic conditions in children, plus a new service — sedation for voiding cystourethrograms (also called VCUGs or cystograms). During this test, a catheter is threaded into the urethra and the bladder before dye is injected. X-rays are taken as the bladder fills with dye and then empties over the course of an hour.

Typically children have to be held down for the test, often a traumatic experience. We’re one of the few centers to offer sedation, making them more comfortable.

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