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Pediatr Nephrol. 2012 Jun;27(6):949-53. doi: 10.1007/s00467-011-2098-0. Epub 2012 Jan 24.

Ultrasound mass screening for congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract.

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  • 1Neonatal Nephrology Study Group, Italian Society of Neonatology, Piazza Angeli 3, 72100, Brindisi, Italy.



There is a high incidence of congenital anomalies of the kidneys and urinary tract (CAKUT). Early diagnosis of these defects may allow the best medical and/or surgical treatment to be implemented as rapidly as possible, preventing or at least slowing down an evolution toward chronic kidney disease.


Ultrasound mass screening for kidney and urinary tract abnormalities in infants at 2 months of age was carried out in Salento, Italy. The centers involved in the study examined a total of 17,783 infants between January 1992 and December 2010.


A total of 171 CAKUT were identified in the course of the mass screening. The frequency of CAKUT was 0.96%. Vesicoureteral reflux (n = 39) was the most frequent renal abnormality found, followed by ureteropelvic junction obstruction (n = 33), ectopic kidney (n = 26), and renal dysplasia (n = 19). In addition, nephrogenic rests (n = 2), as well as several extra-renal pathologies, including abdominal neuroblastoma (n = 3), were diagnosed incidentally.


Ultrasound has been effective for early detection of renal and urinary tract anomalies. In addition, this screening has proved to be very useful for the early identification and management of both renal and extra-renal precancerous as well as cancerous lesions. However, most patients requiring surgery in this study (0.24%) would probably have been symptomatic and come to medical attention without routine screening. On the basis of our results screening is not justified.

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