Normative values for ureteral diameter in children

Pediatr Radiol. 2022 Jul;52(8):1492-1499. doi: 10.1007/s00247-022-05349-z. Epub 2022 Apr 7.


Background: Assessment of the ureter is a fundamental part of the radiologic evaluation of the urinary tract. Abnormal ureteral dilation warrants further investigation to assess the etiology, which includes obstruction and/or reflux. Despite this fundamental need, there are no established normative values in children based on imaging.

Objective: To provide normative values for ureteral diameter in pediatric patients with age-related ranges.

Materials and methods: We retrospectively reviewed all magnetic resonance (MR) urography studies and chose only normal ureters for assessment. The images were analyzed on commercially available software to assess maximum internal diameter. Manual measurements were done in cases where the images were below the resolution for automated assessment. Maximum intraluminal ureteral diameters were measured in upper, mid and lower thirds and the average of the three maximum ureteral diameters was used to obtain the average widest internal ureteral diameter. Multivariable linear regression was performed to test the association between the calculated diameter and gender. Differences in sizes between the left and right ureter were assessed using paired Wilcoxon signed rank test.

Results: One hundred twenty-one MR urography studies were selected, which included 160 ureter units. The diameter increases progressively with age, ranging from 3.2 mm during infancy to 5.0 mm in patients older than 16 years of age. After 9 years of age, the average widest internal ureteral diameter is slightly larger in males compared to females (odds ratio [OR]=1.91, 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.63, 2.25], P<0.0001). The right ureter was slightly larger than the left (3.9 mm vs. 3.7 mm, P=0.004) among 39 patients in whom both right and left ureter units were included. The average mid ureteral diameter is widest, followed by the distal third then proximal third.

Conclusion: We present the normative values for the average widest internal ureteral diameter based on laterality and different segments. In the pediatric population, 3.8 mm should be considered the average widest internal ureteral diameter.

Keywords: Children; Diameter; Magnetic resonance imaging; Magnetic resonance urography; Normative values; Ureter.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Dilatation, Pathologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ureter* / diagnostic imaging
  • Ureter* / pathology