Medical management of vesicoureteral reflux--quiz within the article. Don't overlook placebos

Pediatr Nephrol. 2007 Aug;22(8):1113-20. doi: 10.1007/s00467-007-0485-3. Epub 2007 May 5.


Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) in children is associated with increased risk of urinary tract infection (UTI). Recurrent UTI in the presence of the VUR is believed to cause renal scarring, which carries a risk of subsequent hypertension, toxemia of pregnancy, and significant renal damage, including end-stage renal disease. The natural history of VUR is to improve or resolve completely with time in most of the patients. The traditional management consists of prompt treatment of UTI, long-term anti-microbial prophylaxis until the VUR resolves, or surgical intervention in those with persistent high grade VUR, recurrent UTI in spite of prophylaxis with anti-microbial agent, allergy to anti-microbial agents, and patient/parent non-compliance with the medical management. Voiding dysfunction and constipation play an important role, and their diagnosis and appropriate management helps reduce the frequency of UTI and promote the resolution of the VUR. Patients with renal scarring need to be monitored for potential complications such as hypertension, proteinuria, and progression of the renal damage. In patients with hypertension and/or proteinuria, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) are the drugs of choice, because of their reno-protective properties. Recent studies have revealed that there is no convincing evidence that UTI in the presence of VUR predicts renal injury or that the use of long-term anti-microbial prophylaxis or surgical intervention prevents renal scarring or its progression. However, until proven otherwise by a prospective, placebo-controlled, randomized study, it is advisable to err on the side of caution and consider VUR and UTI risk factors for renal scarring and treat each patient on individual basis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers / therapeutic use*
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / therapy
  • Placebos
  • Proteinuria / complications
  • Proteinuria / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urinary Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Urinary Tract Infections / physiopathology
  • Vesico-Ureteral Reflux / complications*
  • Vesico-Ureteral Reflux / surgery
  • Vesico-Ureteral Reflux / therapy*


  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Placebos