Research Article

Bilateral fetal uropathy: what is the outlook?

BMJ 1989; 298 doi: (Published 27 May 1989) Cite this as: BMJ 1989;298:1419
  1. R. J. Arthur,
  2. H. C. Irving,
  3. D. F. Thomas,
  4. J. K. Watters
  1. Department of Diagnostic Radiology, General Infirmary, Leeds.


    OBJECTIVE--To assess the morbidity and mortality associated with a prenatal diagnosis of bilateral fetal uropathy. DESIGN--Retrospective study. SETTING--Departments of radiology, paediatric surgery, obstetrics, and pathology in two teaching hospitals that serve as referral centres for the Yorkshire region. PATIENTS--126 Cases of fetal uropathy were referred either prenatally or postnatally from hospitals in Yorkshire between August 1982 and December 1987. The disease was bilateral in 54 cases and unilateral in 72 cases. In 14 cases bilateral fetal uropathy was associated with coexistent disease. INTERVENTIONS--All cases were managed individually by an obstetrician after discussion with the radiologists and paediatric surgeons. Babies who survived were treated prophylactically with antibiotics after delivery and were operated on if appropriate. END POINT--Assessment of prognosis for long term renal function for each baby referred between August 1982 and December 1987: follow up ranged from six months to five years. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS--Of the 54 fetuses with bilateral fetal uropathy, 13 were terminated as the prenatal findings of ultrasonography were considered to be incompatible with long term survival. Ten of the liveborn babies died, five of renal or pulmonary insufficiency, or both, and five of associated congenital anomalies. Thirty one infants survived to follow up; four of these had serious coexistent disease and two had impaired renal function. Thus the overall mortality was 43% and the morbidity rate 19%. The renal anomaly was associated with other serious disease in 14 cases (26%) compared with two (3%) of the 72 cases of unilateral fetal uropathy. All but two of the 27 infants with isolated bilateral urinary tract disease had excellent prospects for survival. CONCLUSION--Although bilateral fetal uropathy is associated with a high morbidity rate and mortality, careful prenatal assessment can help to identify fetuses with a poor prognosis. The outlook for a fetus with isolated renal disease if treated promptly after delivery is excellent and compares favourably with that reported after prenatal surgical intervention.