When Your Child Has Hematuria: Urologic Causes

Lab technician sitting at table looking through microscope.When your child has blood in his or her urine, it's called hematuria. This can be scary to hear. But there are many reasons why hematuria occurs that are not serious. Your healthcare provider suspects a problem in your child’s urinary tract is causing hematuria. One or more tests are needed to determine the exact cause. Once the cause is found, the problem can be treated or managed if necessary. 

There are two types of hematuria:

  • Gross hematuria means that blood can be seen when looking at the urine with the naked eye. The urine may look pinkish, brownish, or bright red.

  • Microscopic hematuria means that the urine appears clear, but blood cells can be seen when the urine is looked at under a microscope.

Both types may indicate a problem somewhere in the body. But one is not more serious than the other.

What are the possible causes of hematuria?

  • Runs in a family

  • Bladder or kidney infection

  • Recent “strep” (streptococcal) infection

  • Certain medicines

  • Vigorous exercise

  • Damage to the urinary tract or catheter use

  • Kidney stones

  • Blockage in the urinary tract

  • Diseases, such as sickle cell anemia

  • Kidney disease

How is hematuria diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your child’s health. A physical exam will also be done to look for problems. One or more of the following tests may be done to find the cause of your child’s hematuria:

  • Urinalysis to examine the urine for blood or other problems

  • Blood tests to look for infection or kidney disease

  • Kidney and bladder ultrasound to create images of the kidney and bladder using sound waves

  • A KUB (kidney, ureter, bladder) X-ray to determine if kidney stones or another problem is present

  • CT (computed tomography) scan to give the health care provider a more detailed image of the kidney and bladder than a regular X-ray

  • Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) X-ray to show if reflux (backward flow of urine) is present and how the bladder and urethra function, especially during urination

  • Cystoscopy to see inside the urethra and bladder, using a small scope with a camera attached at the end

How is hematuria treated? 

Treatment depends on what’s causing the bleeding. Your child’s healthcare provider will tell you more after the exact cause is determined.