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J Urol. 2000 Nov;164(5):1674-8; discussion 1678-9.

99m Technetium dimercapto-succinic acid renal scintigraphy abnormalities in infants with sterile high grade vesicoureteral reflux.

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Departments of Urology and Radiology-Nuclear Medicine, Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Although vesicoureteral reflux associated with bacteriuria may cause renal scarring, sterile reflux is thought not to cause renal injury. We determined the incidence and associated characteristics of renal abnormalities using 99mtechnetium(Tc) dimercapto-succinic acid (DMSA) renal scintigraphy in infants with high grade vesicoureteral reflux but no history of urinary tract infection.


We retrospectively reviewed the results of 99mTc-DMSA renal scintigraphy and renal ultrasonography performed during the first 6 months of life in infants with vesicoureteral reflux detected during the postnatal evaluation of prenatal hydronephrosis or sibling reflux screening. Those with a history of urinary tract infection, or evidence of ureteropelvic junction or bladder outlet obstruction were excluded from study.


Of the 28 male and 6 female infants who met study criteria vesicoureteral reflux was bilateral in 25 and unilateral in 9. Reflux grade was IV or V, II or III and I in 38, 18 and 3 of the 59 refluxing renal units, respectively. 99mTc-DMSA renal scintigraphy revealed parenchymal abnormalities in 24 refluxing renal units (41%) in 22 patients (65%), of whom 19 (86%) were male and 15 (68%) had bilateral reflux. We noted differential uptake less than 40% with and without cortical defects in 10 and 7 refluxing units, respectively, and cortical defects only in 7. Of the 24 refluxing units with abnormalities 21 were associated with grade IV or V and 3 with grade II or III reflux. Ultrasound showed evidence of renal injury in only 7 of the 17 patients (41%) in whom 99mTc-DMSA scintigraphy was abnormal.


In our study the majority of infants with high grade reflux had decreased differential function and/or cortical defects. Parenchymal defects detected by 99mTc-DMSA renal scintigraphy were often not identified by renal ultrasound. Therefore, 99mTc-DMSA renal scintigraphy is especially useful for initially evaluating infants with high grade, sterile vesicoureteral reflux.

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