, Volume 32, Issue 12, pp 849-852

Time course of transient cortical scintigraphic defects associated with acute pyelonephritis

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Background. Acute pyelonephritis is distinguished from renal scarring using repeat cortical scintigraphy. The defects of acute pyelonephritis resolve, while those of scars persist.

Objective. To determine the duration of reversible cortical defects following acute pyelonephritis and the time interval required to differentiate infection from scars.

Materials and methods. An observational prospective study of 193 children (386 kidneys) aged less than 5 years following their first proven urinary tract infection (UTI). Renal cortical scintigraphic defects were detected in 112 (29%) kidneys within 15 days of diagnosis. Of these, 95 underwent repeat renal cortical scans 2 years after the UTI, including 50 with additional scans performed within 2–6 months of infection.

Results. Of the 50 kidneys undergoing a second renal cortical scan within 2–6 months of the first UTI, 22 (44%) had persistent defects. A third scan was performed on 17 (77%) kidneys after 2 years, by which time defects had resolved in another 8 (47%) kidneys. The predictive value of defects detected within 2–6 months of UTI representing scars is 53% (95% CI 28, 77). Overall, nine (18%) kidneys with initial renal cortical abnormalities had permanent defects. In the 45 kidneys undergoing a second cortical scan more than 6 months after the UTI, 11 (24%) had persistent defects. None of the 95 kidneys undergoing serial scans developed new or larger defects.

Conclusions. Renal scars may not be reliably diagnosed by cortical scintigraphy performed within 6 months of UTI because the inflammatory lesions may not have fully resolved.

Electronic Publication