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J Urol. 2003 May;169(5):1804-8.

Familial vesicoureteral reflux.

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  • 1Children's Research Centre, Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.



Vesicoureteral reflux is known to occur in families. We summarized worldwide data on the incidence and nature of vesicoureteral reflux in siblings of children with vesicoureteral reflux.


We searched MEDLINE using the words siblings vesicoureteral reflux, familial vesicoureteral reflux, offspring vesicoureteral reflux and vesicoureteral reflux screening. All articles that we identified that were published from 1972 to 2002 were analyzed for the incidence of renal damage in siblings of patients with vesicoureteral reflux.


Siblings of patients with vesicoureteral reflux have a much higher incidence of reflux than the normal population. There is a direct relationship of patient age to the incidence and severity of reflux. Most investigators advocate screening asymptomatic siblings of patients with vesicoureteral reflux.


The incidence of sibling reflux is significant. When vesicoureteral reflux is discovered in symptomatic siblings, it is usually high grade and associated with a high incidence of reflux nephropathy. Randomized controlled studies are needed to compare renal damage in patients with reflux detected through screening to renal damage in those diagnosed after urinary tract infection to establish how much renal damage may be prevented by screening in asymptomatic siblings.

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