Pediatric Nephrology

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 334–342 | Cite as

Prenatal diagnosis and management of bilateral hydronephrosis

  • Timothy M. Crombleholme
  • Michael R. Harrison
  • Michael T. Longaker
  • Jacob C. Langer
Invited Review


This report reviews the management of the fetus with congenital hydronephrosis (CH), a challenging diagnostic and therapeutic problem. Experimental models of obstructive uropathy have produced histologic changes similar to those seen in kidneys of human neonates with congenital hydronephrosis. Relief of obstruction in utero in these models has been shown to prevent some of the dysplastic changes caused by obstruction. These studies have formed the theoretical basis for in utero decompression to restore amniotic fluid dynamics to prevent death from pulmonary hypoplasia, and reverse or arrest dysplastic morphogenesis. The development of prognostic criteria has greatly aided in selection of appropriate fetuses for intervention. These criteria include: (1) Na<100 mEq/l; (2) Cl<90 mEq/l; (3) osmolarity <210 mosmol; (4) sonographic appearance of the fetal kidneys; (5) amniotic fluid status; (6) urine output at fetal bladder catheterization. All fetuses should have ultrasonography to exclude other anomalies, and karyotype analysis to exclude chromosomal abnormality. If amniotic fluid volume is normal, the pregnancy is followed with serial ultrasound examinations. If oligohydramnios develops, a prognostic evaluation is performed, including fetal bladder catheterization. If the fetus has poor residual renal function, on the basis of prognostic criteria, appropriate counseling may be given. If the fetus has good residual renal function, depending on lung maturity, it can be delivered early for corrective surgery. If diagnosed prior to lung maturity in utero, decompression by either vesicoamniotic shunting or open fetal surgery may be attempted in the highly selected case. Very few fetuses with CH will require in utero decompression, but all benefit from early diagnosis allowing preparation for postnatal care. Open fetal surgery should be considered an experimental therapy until efficacy and safety are established in controlled trials.

Key words

Congenital hydronephrosis Fetal surgery Vesicoamniotic shunts 


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Copyright information

© IPNA 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy M. Crombleholme
    • 1
  • Michael R. Harrison
    • 1
  • Michael T. Longaker
    • 1
  • Jacob C. Langer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Surgery (Division of Pediatric Surgery)University of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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