Failure of pre-natal ultrasonography to prevent urinary infection associated with underlying urological abnormalities

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Abstract

Objectives

To analyse the reasons underlying the failure of routine pre-natal ultrasonography to prevent the subsequent development of urinary tract infection (UTI) in children with predisposing urological abnormalities.

Patients and methods

This retrospective study comprised 39 children (22 females and 17 males) who had at least one documented UTI, the presence of an anatomical anomaly of the urinary tract recognized as predisposing to UTI and had undergone ultrasonography of the urinary tract undertaken in fetal life as part of routine maternal ante-natal ultrasonography. Four categories of patients were defined: Group A, those with normal findings on pre-natal ultrasonography and no urological abnormality detected; Group B, those with a urological abnormality detected but where there was a subsequent failure of communication among clinicians; Group C, those with a urological abnormality but who received inappropriate or sub-optimal post-natal management and; Group D, those with a urological abnormality but who had a UTI despite appropriate post-natal management. In each case, the most severe documented episode of UTI was categorized as: Grade I, asymptomatic bacteriuria; Grade II, mild/moderate symptomatic UTI and; Grade III, severe symptomatic UTI necessitating hospital admission.

Results

Group A comprised 22 (56%), Group B three (9%), Group C two (5%) and Group D 12 children (31%). Of the 22 children in Group A, nine experienced a UTI of sufficient severity to necessitate hospital admission. Of the 12 children in Group D only one required hospital admission.

Conclusions

The failure of pre-natal ultrasonography to identify the underlying predisposing urological abnormality was the most important factor contributing to subsequent UTI in post-natal life. Failure of communication and inappropriate post-natal management were numerically unimportant. In some children, UTI occurred despite pre-natal detection of their underlying anomaly and appropriate post-natal management. However, in this group the UTI was less severe than in those children whose urological anomalies had not been detected by pre-natal ultrasonography.

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