Ultrasound findings of BK polyomavirus-associated nephropathy in renal transplant patients

J Nephrol. 2017 Jun;30(3):449-453. doi: 10.1007/s40620-016-0327-0. Epub 2016 Jun 24.


BK polyomavirus (BKV) is an emerging pathogen in immunocompromised patients. BKV infection occurs in 1-9 % of renal transplants and causes chronic nephropathy or graft loss. Diagnosis of BKV-associated nephropathy (BKVAN) is based on detection of viruria then viremia and at least a tubule-interstitial nephritis at renal biopsy. This paper describes the ultrasound and color Doppler (US-CD) features of BKVAN. Seventeen patients affected by BKVAN were studied using a linear bandwidth 7-12 MHz probe. Ultrasound showed a widespread streak-like pattern with alternating normal echoic and hypoechoic streaks with irregular edges from the papilla to the cortex. Renal biopsy performed in hypoechoic areas highlighted the typical viral inclusions in tubular epithelial cells. Our experience suggests a possible role for US-CD in the non-invasive diagnosis of BKVAN when combined with blood and urine screening tests. US-CD must be performed with a high-frequency linear probe to highlight the streak-like pattern of the renal parenchyma.

Keywords: BK virus; Kidney transplantation; Nephritis; Ultrasonography.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • BK Virus / pathogenicity*
  • Biopsy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney / diagnostic imaging*
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney / virology
  • Kidney Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephritis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Nephritis / virology
  • Polyomavirus Infections / diagnostic imaging*
  • Polyomavirus Infections / virology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Tumor Virus Infections / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tumor Virus Infections / virology
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color*