Objectives: To evaluate the criteria for conservative versus surgical treatment of multicystic dysplastic kidneys and to attempt to specify the optimal timing for surgery, when considered indicated.
Methods: The study population comprised 48 antenatally or neonatally detected consecutive patients with unilateral multicystic dysplastic kidney. The fate of the affected renal conglomerate was regularly analyzed by ultrasonography. All cases were primarily followed up conservatively. In the patients who eventually underwent nephrectomy, the decision to operate was made after a minimum of 18 months (median 25).
Results: Ultrasound follow-up showed complete involution in 13 cases (27%); in 35 cases (73%), the renal conglomerate persisted throughout the study period (mean 46 months). Of the 48 patients, 32 (67%) eventually underwent nephrectomy. The size of the affected mass among the involuted cases was significantly smaller throughout the study period than in those requiring nephrectomy. The difference between the two groups continuously increased during follow-up, with a mean involution rate of 2.5 cm/yr versus 0.6 cm/yr (up to 18 months) for the involuted versus noninvoluted cases, respectively (P <0.0001). From 18 months on, no statistically significant involution was observed in those who eventually underwent nephrectomy.
Conclusions: Patients with antenatally or neonatally detected multicystic dysplastic kidney can primarily be followed up conservatively. Involution occurs in approximately one fourth of the cases, usually within about 14 months. In our experience, no significant involution can be expected to occur after 18 months. If surgery is decided on, we recommend an age of about 2 years. Late complications (eg, Wilms' tumor and renovascular hypertension) are rare.