Forty five children presenting with a first proven urinary tract infection under the age of 5 years were studied by sequential 99mTc dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) scans. Forty nine kidneys in 40 children had definite defects at presentation, and 39 (80%) of these defects were still present when the DMSA scan was repeated. Changes in the appearance of defects were independent of the presence or degree of reflux at presentation and of symptomatic recurrence of infection, though the combination of new infection and grade 3 reflux (reflux reaching the renal calices with distension) was associated with deterioration. No kidney with a relative DMSA uptake of less than 35% showed any improvement in its cortical defects. Only two kidneys that were initially without defects, in a single patient who had bilateral grade 3 reflux and breakthrough infections, developed defects on subsequent scans. The outcome after urinary tract infection is dependent on the effect of the first infection on the kidney. Occasionally children with grade 3 reflux develop damage during subsequent infections. More widespread use of DMSA scans should improve our understanding of the factors that determine the development of renal damage.
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