Postnatal longitudinal evaluation of children diagnosed with prenatal hydronephrosis: insights in natural history and referral pattern


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  • Conflicts of interest: None declared

Hiep T. Nguyen. E-mail:



Clinical significance and management of prenatal hydronephrosis (PNH) are sources of debate. Existing studies are flawed with biased cohorts or inconsistent follow-up. We aimed to evaluate the incidence of pathology in a large cohort of PNH and assess the biases and outcomes of this population.


We reviewed 1034 charts of fetuses with PNH. Records of delivered offspring were reviewed at a pediatric center and analyzed with respect to prenatal and postnatal pathology and management.


Prenatal resolution of hydronephrosis occurred in 24.7% of pregnancies. On first postnatal ultrasound, some degree of dilatation was present in 80%, 88% and 95% of mild, moderate and severe PNH cases, respectively. At the end of follow-up, hydronephrosis persisted in 10%, 25% and 72% of children, respectively. Incidence of vesicoureteral reflux did not correlate with severity of PNH. Children with postnatal workup had more severe PNH than those without.


Despite prenatal resolution totalizing 25%, pelvic dilatation persisted on first postnatal imaging in most cases, thus justifying postnatal ultrasound evaluation. Whereas most mild cases resolved spontaneously, a quarter of moderate and more than half of severe cases required surgery. Patients with postnatal imaging and referral had more severe PNH, which could result in overestimation of pathology. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.