Purpose: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) are commonly used to image complex medical conditions but limited data have been reported concerning normal renal volumetric measurement with these imaging techniques. We examined whether normative renal growth curves could be constructed from data derived from these imaging modalities, and from these curves assessed normal and abnormal renal development.
Materials and methods: Patients who had undergone prior renal MRI or CT were identified. Total renal volume and renal cortical fraction (CF, cortical/total volume) were calculated, and growth curves were derived. To examine the curve utility for abnormal growth assessment, renal ultrasonography of children with reflux nephropathy was examined, and MRI and radionuclide scans were compared.
Results: A total of 60 patients 2 months to 39 years old who underwent MRI were included in the growth curve. The CF of the 120 kidneys was 75.8 +/- 4.3% and independent of sex and age. In 19 patients with vesicoureteral reflux 13 kidneys had cortical scarring, and the CF was decreased (p <0.001, 63.65 +/- 5.72%), indicating disproportionate cortical loss. No difference between CF for normal and vesicoureteral reflux unscarred kidneys was found. Differential renal function on radionuclide study correlated highly with MRI renal volume (r = 0.91). CT was performed in 70 children 1 to 15 years old (mean age 7.9) volume correlated with age and renal length, and the left kidney was larger than right kidney on MRI and CT.
Conclusions: Normative renal growth curves can be constructed from CT and MRI derived renal volumes. Cortical fraction is consistent, and sex and age independent. In reflux nephropathy the CF is reduced and renal differential function on nuclear scan correlates with MRI derived differential volume. This concept may be useful for predicting abnormal renal growth and differential function.