Objectives: To report a retrospective study of unilateral multicystic dysplastic kidneys (MCDK) in children, assessing the contralateral kidneys and urinary tract, the functional consequences, and the urological and nephrological management and outcome, as unilateral MCDK is the most common cause of renal cystic disease in children, and malformations of the contralateral urinary tract and kidney (pelvi-ureteric obstruction, megaureter, reflux, renal dysplasia) have been reported.
Patients and methods: The study included 97 patients (60 boys, 37 girls) with MCDK seen between 1985 and 1998; 82 were diagnosed in utero by ultrasonography (US). After birth, the diagnosis was verified by US, renal scanning (in 93) or intravenous urography (in four), and 89 (92%) had voiding cysto-urethrography (VCUG). Of the 97 children, 87 (90% had a mean (range) follow-up of 44.3 (15-115) months.
Results: The MCDK was removed in 17 children; the follow-up of 75 children (five lost to follow-up) showed total involution of the MCDK in 25%, shrinkage in 60% and a stable size in 15%. None had any sign of malignancy. The contralateral kidney showed anomalies in 19 of 97 children (20%); 12 had a dilated renal pelvis (two with megaureter), six had a high echogenicity of the contralateral kidney (one had reflux, and two also pelvic dilatation). In only four of the 89 children was reflux found by VCUG; 16 of the 19 anomalies were detected by US. Five children needed surgery on the contralateral urinary tract (three a pyeloplasty, and one each a pyeloplasty plus ureteroneocystostomy, and an antireflux procedure). Of the contralateral kidneys 43% showed compensatory hypertrophy. There was mild renal insufficiency in three children; renal function seemed to be slightly impaired in many. Five infants had hypertension (four with spontaneous resolution) caused by renal scarring after pyelonephritis or inborn dysplasia of the contralateral kidney. There were symptomatic urinary tract infections in seven children.
Conclusion: US can be used safely to diagnose unilateral MCDKs and malformations of the contralateral urinary tract and kidney. In cases where US of the dysplastic kidney remains uncertain renal scintigraphy is necessary to detect the lack of renal function. The low rate of reflux makes routine VCUG unnecessary if the contralateral upper urinary tract and kidney appear to be normal on US. Nephrectomy of the dysplastic kidney in typical cases is also unnecessary. A long-term nephro-urological follow-up of children with MCDK is recommended.