Objectives: To determine when pyelonephritic renal scarring was detected in children with urinary tract infection (UTI) and characterize those with primary and acquired scarring, respectively.
Study design: A population-based cohort of 1221 children (989 girls and 232 boys) with first recognized symptomatic UTI, aged 0 to 15 years, were diagnosed and followed up prospectively at a single children's hospital; 652 had febrile UTI. Seven hundred fifty-three were evaluated by urography. Renal scarring was classified as primary or acquired, the latter without signs of scarring at the first investigation. To evaluate the frequency of recurrent UTI in those with acquired scarring, a comparison with group-matched children without scarring was performed.
Results: A total of 74 children without obstruction had renal scarring (acquired in 40). Primary scarring was found in 18 of 21 (86%) of the boys and 16 of 53 (30%) of the girls (P <.001). The majority of boys with scarring had dilated reflux (67%) in contrast to girls (23%). Recurrent UTI was rare in boys, whereas girls with acquired scarring had significantly more febrile recurrences than girls without scarring.
Conclusions: Most boys had primary, probably congenital, reflux-associated renal damage, whereas most girls had acquired scarring related to recurrences of febrile UTI.