Prediction of moderate and high grade vesicoureteral reflux after a first febrile urinary tract infection in children: construction and internal validation of a clinical decision rule

J Urol. 2012 Jan;187(1):265-71. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2011.09.034. Epub 2011 Nov 17.


Purpose: Urinary tract infection leads to a diagnosis of moderate or high grade (III or higher) vesicoureteral reflux in approximately 15% of children. Predicting reflux grade III or higher would make it possible to restrict cystography to high risk cases. We aimed to derive a clinical decision rule to predict vesicoureteral reflux grade III or higher in children with a first febrile urinary tract infection.

Materials and methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of prospective series including all children with a first febrile urinary tract infection from the 8 European participating university hospitals.

Results: A total of 494 patients (197 boys, reflux grade III or higher in 11%) were included. Procalcitonin and ureteral dilatation on ultrasound were significantly associated with reflux grade III or higher and then combined into a prediction model with an ROC AUC of 0.75 (95% CI 0.69-0.81). Given the prespecified constraint of achieving at least 85% sensitivity, our model led to the clinical decision rule, for children with a first febrile urinary tract infection cystography should be performed in cases with ureteral dilatation and serum procalcitonin level 0.17 ng/ml or higher, or without ureteral dilatation (ie ureter not visible) when serum procalcitonin level is 0.63 ng/ml or higher. The rule had 86% sensitivity (95% CI 74-93) with 47% specificity (95% CI 42-51). Internal cross-validation produced 86% sensitivity (95% CI 79-93) and 43% specificity (95% CI 39-47).

Conclusions: A clinical decision rule was derived to enable a selective approach to cystography in children with urinary tract infection. The rule predicts high grade vesicoureteral reflux with approximately 85% sensitivity and avoids half of the cystograms that do not find reflux grade III or higher. Further validation is needed before its widespread use.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Female
  • Fever / complications*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Urinary Tract Infections / complications*
  • Vesico-Ureteral Reflux / epidemiology
  • Vesico-Ureteral Reflux / etiology*