Research Article

Value of antenatal diagnosis of abnormalities of the urinary tract.

BMJ 1989; 298 doi: (Published 27 May 1989) Cite this as: BMJ 1989;298:1417
  1. J. D. Greig,
  2. P. A. Raine,
  3. D. G. Young,
  4. A. F. Azmy,
  5. J. R. MacKenzie,
  6. F. Danskin,
  7. M. J. Whittle,
  8. M. B. McNay
  1. Department of Paediatric Surgery, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow.


    OBJECTIVE--To assess the value of antenatal diagnosis of abnormalities of the urinary tract on ultrasonography. DESIGN--Retrospective study. SETTING--Two obstetric units in Glasgow. SUBJECTS--62 Fetuses in which renal abnormalities were diagnosed on antenatal ultrasonography. INTERVENTIONS--Six fetuses had their bladders aspirated to determine renal function. Fifteen pregnancies were terminated on the basis of the findings on antenatal ultrasonography, and if possible necropsy was performed on the fetuses. In babies who were born alive the final diagnosis was made by postnatal ultrasonography, intravenous urography, radionuclide scanning, cystography, and, in those who died in the early neonatal period, necropsy. Neonates who were referred with a known obstructed kidney had nephrostomy or pyeloplasty. END POINT--Assessment of the value of antenatal diagnosis of renal abnormalities on ultrasonography for babies who had no clinical evidence of disease postnatally. MAIN RESULTS--Eighteen fetuses did not survive birth; the antenatal diagnosis was accurate in all 18. Of the 44 babies born alive, five had normal urinary tracts, in two of whom antenatal ultrasonography had probably indicated a false positive diagnosis. Fourteen babies died during the early neonatal period. Twenty five babies with renal abnormalities were followed up; the antenatal diagnosis was inaccurate for 10 of them, the commonest misdiagnosis being hydronephrosis for multicystic kidney and vice versa, and there was one false positive diagnosis. The initial clinical findings in 14 babies would have led to the early detection of a urological abnormality. In the 30 babies with no clinical evidence of disease the antenatal diagnosis was of definite value in eight, probable value in 15, and marginal value in seven. Overall, an accurate antenatal diagnosis was made in 46 of the 62 cases (74%); in 12 cases renal disease was detected but its specific nature was not determined; and in four cases the diagnosis was misleading. CONCLUSIONS--The overall value of antenatal diagnosis is that it indicates early termination of fetuses with fatal renal disease, prepares parents and medical staff for the likelihood of serious neonatal problems, and shows abnormalities of the urinary tract that may not be detected postnatally.