RALEIGH, N.C. — Surgery for a child is a stressful decision for any parent. For children with a condition known as bladder reflux, improvements in a less-invasive procedure are making it a more popular option.
When 12-year-old Katherine Lochbaum was four years old, she had a urinary tract infection. Tests showed she had bladder reflux -- a condition where urine flows back up into the kidneys and can lead to dangerous infections.
"When she did get them, they obviously went up into the kidneys. Her back would hurt," said Cindy Lochbaum, Katherine's mother.
Most children grow out of the problem and simply need antibiotics, but Katherine's infections continued to a severe level. More than a year ago, surgery corrected the problem, then Cindy Lochbaum discovered her son, Marshall, had a less severe case of the same condition.
"When you have a child with reflux, there's a 33 percent chance that their sibling will have it and since we have three siblings, we worked out statistically perfectly," Cindy said.
This time, WakeMed pediatric urologist Dr. Timothy Bukowski, the Lochbaum's physician, recommended a less-invasive endoscopic procedure.
"The advantage, of course, is that the hospital stay is less, but the success rate is not as great yet as the open procedure," he said.
Bukowski believes patients will have fewer problems with a new sugar-based material called Deflux. It is injected just below the malfunctioning valve.
The Deflux creates a new ball valve that lets urine flow into the bladder, but not back up to the kidneys. If the Deflux dissolves, the body will absorb it, but 70 percent of the time, the new valve stays and can last 5 years or longer. For Cindy Lochbaum, it was still a better option over full surgery.
"He'll always have to be careful and if he does come up with a fever, he will have to be tested for an urinary tract infection," she said.
WRAL Health Team Dr. Allen Mask said the endoscopic procedure to treat bladder reflux can be repeated. It only takes 20 minutes and it does not require overnight hospital stays.