Case Study: Diaper Drama

In my anatomy class, students learn the urinary system second semester. Compared to other systems, the organs are simple, just the bladder, the kidneys, and ureters. However, the process by which the kidney filter blood is quite complex. Plus, the importance of the organ cannot be understated. You can live with only one kidney, but you cannot live with no kidneys unless you routinely use dialysis to clear waste products from the blood.

This case study is part of an overall unit on the urinary system.

Engage students with this introductory case study on the urinary system


As the case progresses, students learn that baby Marina has a urinary tract infection that is likely caused by a double ureter. Students learn details about how urine samples are obtained in infants, how different types of X-rays can be used to see soft tissue. An x-ray reveals that the baby has a double ureter.

Ectopic Ureter

Finally, students must make a value judgment about the treatment of the baby. They can choose a surgical option where the ureter and a part of the kidney are removed, or they can choose a medical treatment, where the baby will take prophylactic antibiotics.

This case was inspired by a Buffalo Case study called the crying baby, but has been modified quite a bit to work for high school anatomy class and focus on specific details we learn during the unit on the urinary system. I wanted to focus more on the procedures and diagnostics as well as make a shorter simpler case study for students to complete on her own during “social distancing.”

I’ve also included an image showing an X ray of a double ureter for students to compare with a normal X-ray as well as a description of how urine samples can be obtained by catheter or by the “clean-catch” technique.