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Urology. 1999 Apr;53(4):812-5.

Contemporary incidence of morbidity related to vesicoureteral reflux.

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  • 1Department of Urology, Children's Kidney Center, Children's Hospital of Buffalo, New York 14222, USA.



The association among vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), renal scarring, and reflux nephropathy is well established. Screening programs for children who present with urinary tract infection (UTI) and their siblings, along with medical and surgical management, have been promoted by pediatric medical and urologic specialists in Buffalo and the surrounding community for more than two decades. Has this comprehensive and costly effort resulted in a decrease in VUR-related morbidity and should it be continued?


The records of all active patients who presented from 1982 through 1997 to this region's single pediatric nephrology referral center were reviewed. One hundred twenty-two children and adolescents (73 boys, 49 girls) were identified with hypertension (HTN), renal insufficiency (RI), and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) requiring dialysis or transplantation.


There were 70 patients (57%) with HTN, 19 (16%) with RI, and 33 (27%) with ESRD. Reflux nephropathy was the underlying cause in 6 patients (5%)-3 with HTN and 3 with ESRD. The etiologies of morbidity in the remaining patients were medical renal disease, 61 (50%); idiopathic, 17 (14%); obstructive uropathy, 14 (11%); primary congenital renal hypoplasia, 12 (10%); and vascular, 12 (10%). Of the 6 patients with VUR-related morbidity, 4 were boys (3 with ESRD, 1 with HTN) and 2 were girls (with HTN). Five children presented in the 1980s and 1 in the 1990s. Only 1 patient had a history of UTI, and she presented early in the series in 1982 at 5 years of age. Ages of presentation were infancy (2 boys), early childhood (1 boy, 1 girl), and adolescence (1 boy, 1 girl). Reasons for presentation were failure to thrive (n = 2), voiding dysfunction without UTI (n = 1), muscle cramps (n = 1), UTI (n = 1), and HTN (n = 1). Reflux grade ranged from I to V, but 4 patients had grade III or less.


Awareness of VUR-related morbidity has led to more widespread diagnosis and treatment, which appears to have resulted in a dramatic decrease in the numbers of affected patients in this community. The diagnosis and treatment of VUR has altered the epidemiology of HTN and renal failure in children and young adults.

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