• vesico-ureteric reflux;
  • renal growth;
  • split renal function;
  • DMSA scintigraphy


To evaluate the renal growth pattern in patients with primary vesico-ureteric reflux (VUR) using long-term measurements of split renal function with 99mTc-dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) scintigraphy.


In all, 712 children aged < 16 years (466 boys and 246 girls) with primary VUR were referred to our hospital from July 1991 to December 2000. VUR was diagnosed by voiding cysto-urethrography. The patients were treated either surgically (group 1) or conservatively (group 2) and followed with serial 99mTc-DMSA scintigraphy for up to 10 years. There were 942 examinations in 367 of 712 patients who had repeat scintigraphy. Patients with secondary VUR, VUR to a solitary or fused kidney, or upper urinary tract obstruction, were excluded. Five of 298 patients (1.7%) who had ureteric reimplantation had a febrile urinary tract infection (UTI) soon after surgery but none recurred (recurrence is an indication for surgery in children with VUR); there was no febrile UTI in the 69 patients in group 2. Planar scintigraphy with 99mTc-DMSA was used to assess the absolute uptake (AU) of each kidney, measured as a percentage of the injected dose, and the relative uptake (RU = AU of each kidney/AU of both kidneys) calculated. The initial examination was at least 4 weeks after any febrile UTI in most patients. Serial studies were conducted 1 year after surgery and then biannually in group 1. In group 2 the DMSA scan was repeated every 2–3 years. The change in split renal function was compared with the RU of the right kidney.


The RU of the right kidney at the initial scan correlated closely with those on repeated scans in both groups. The correlation coefficients were 0.99 in group 1 and 0.94–0.97 in group 2 at every study. The change of RU remained within 0.05 in all patients after treatment.


Under strict control of UTI, split renal function in children with primary VUR does not change. There may be no possibility of accelerated or compensatory growth of the kidney with reflux nephropathy, but no concern about deterioration and atrophy either.