Seventy six children, 18 boys and 58 girls, aged 0-15.9 (median 1.0) years, with acute pyelonephritis were prospectively studied with a technetium-99m dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) scan during infection and two months later. Fifty nine of these children were also studied two years after the infection. Seventeen children with a normal DMSA scan during infection or at two months after infection, or both, were not investigated by a DMSA scan at two years after acute pyelonephritis. A micturition cystourethrogram was performed in all the children after two months. Changes on the DMSA scan were found in 65 (86%) children during acute pyelonephritis, in 45 (59%) children at two months, and in 28 (37%) children at two years after infection. Vesicoureteric reflux (VUR) was found in 19 (25%) children at two months. Renal scarring was significantly correlated with the presence of gross VUR and recurrent pyelonephritis, but 62% of the scarred kidneys were drained by non-refluxing ureters. Children with scars were older at the time of acute pyelonephritis than those without scars but no difference was found between the groups with regard to duration of illness, levels of C reactive protein and maximum white cell count, glomerular filtration rate, nor renal concentration capacity at the time of infection. It is concluded that renal scarring after acute pyelonephritis in children is more common than has been previously thought. Although children with gross VUR and recurrent pyelonephritis are at the greatest risk, renal scarring is more often seen without these risk factors.
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