Effectiveness of various treatment modalities in children with vesicoureteral reflux grades II-IV: a systematic review and network meta-analysis

BMJ Paediatr Open. 2023 Nov;7(1):e002096. doi: 10.1136/bmjpo-2023-002096.


Background: Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) is one of the most common risk factors of urinary tract infection (UTI) among children. Various treatment modalities including antibiotic prophylaxis, surgical or endoscopic corrections and conservative treatment were used depending on the severity of VUR. The aim of this study is to compare the effectiveness of these treatment modalities in children with VUR grades II-IV by conducting a systematic review and network meta-analysis.

Methods: A systematic search from different databases was performed from their earliest records to December 2022 without any language restriction. Only randomised controlled trials were included in this study. Effectiveness of treatment modalities was mainly compared by UTI. Other outcomes for renal scarring and resolution by renal units were also measured between treatments.

Results: A total of 11 studies with 1447 children were included in this study. While comparing with antibiotic prophylaxis in network meta-analysis for UTI recurrence, surgical treatment probably lowers the rate of UTI recurrence (Log OR -0.26, 95% CI -0.54 to 0.02, high quality). However, endoscopic treatment (Log OR 0.2, 95% CI -1.41 to 1.81, high quality) and conservative treatment (Log OR 0.15, 95% CI -0.45 to 0.75, high quality) revealed probably inferior to antibiotic treatment.

Conclusion: Both pairwise and network meta-analytic results probably showed no difference between the treatments in terms of their impact on UTI recurrence, progression of previous renal scars, or formation of new renal scars in children with VUR grades II-IV. These findings may offer a better understanding of each treatment and evidence-based suggestions for the choice of treatment, which should be individualised and based on the patient's risk factors.

Keywords: Nephrology; Statistics.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cicatrix / complications
  • Humans
  • Kidney
  • Network Meta-Analysis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Urinary Tract Infections* / etiology
  • Urinary Tract Infections* / prevention & control
  • Vesico-Ureteral Reflux* / complications
  • Vesico-Ureteral Reflux* / therapy