Hyperechoic kidneys in the newborn and young infant

Pediatr Nephrol. 1993 Jun;7(3):294-302. doi: 10.1007/BF00853228.


Increased echogenicity of the kidney in the newborn has many causes, some of which reflect serious renal disease. The major abnormal imaging pattern is the large, diffusely hyperechoic kidney with abnormal architecture. Its differential diagnosis includes recessive and dominant polycystic kidney disease (PKD), glomerulocystic kidney disease, and diffuse cystic dysplasia. The family history and ultrasonic screening of the parents and siblings are essential in the evaluation. The identification of associated nonrenal abnormalities is important to the recognition of syndromal cystic disease. Glomerulocystic kidney disease, which comprises sporadic and syndromal forms, appears similar to dominant PKD. While renal biopsy almost always differentiates recessive from dominant PKD, renal biopsy cannot differentiate among the forms of glomerulocystic kidney disease, except in the case of tuberous sclerosis, which has unique histopathological characteristics. Other causes of the enlarged hyperechoic kidneys with abnormal architecture include renal vein thrombosis and congenital nephrotic syndrome. A second pattern is the hyperechoic small kidney with abnormal architecture. Many of these kidneys are dysplastic and associated with urinary tract obstruction. The combination of hyperechoic parenchyma and pyelocaliceal dilatation suggests obstructive cystic dysplasia. Cortical and medullary necrosis in the newborn also causes hyperechogenicity in small kidneys. A third pattern contains those kidneys with medullary hyperechogenicity, the most common cause of which in the newborn is nephrocalcinosis associated with furosemide therapy.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kidney / diagnostic imaging*
  • Kidney Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology
  • Ultrasonography