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J Urol. 2000 Jun;163(6):1949-51.

Upper urinary tract manifestations of the VACTERL association.

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  • 1Scott Department of Urology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA.



In patients suspected to have the vertebral, anal, tracheoesophageal, renal, radial, cardiac and limb abnormalities (VACTERL) association we studied the frequency of upper urinary tract anomalies, prevalence of these features, predictability of upper tract pathology and proper screening evaluation.


From 1991 to 1998 we identified 55 patients with the VACTERL association. Upper urinary tract assessment, including initial renal ultrasound and voiding cystourethrography, and followup data were available for 29 boys and 15 girls. Patients were considered to have the VACTERL association when 3 or more organ systems were involved.


Average followup was 5.4 years. Upper urinary tract involvement was noted in 41 of the 44 patients (93.2%) and vesicoureteral reflux in 17 (25 renal units). Of the kidneys 21 were hydronephrotic without reflux or obstruction, 10 were solitary, 3 were multicystic dysplastic, 8 were obstructed and only 17 were normal. A total of 27 patients (61%) underwent at least 1 genitourinary procedure, primarily ureteroneocystotomy. All children were alive at the last followup.


The VACTERL association involves multiple serious anomalies. However, these infants generally have a good outcome. Since the upper urinary system is the most common organ system involved, patients should receive prophylactic antibiotics until an initial urological assessment with renal ultrasound and voiding cystourethrography is performed. It is essential for physicians to know that most children with the VACTERL association have urological involvement that requires treatment and long-term management.

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