Objective: To assess the quality of the evidence on which current recommendations for routine diagnostic imaging for childhood urinary tract infection are based.
Methods: A systematic overview of the literature using the MEDLINE database (1966 to October 1994), article bibliographies, and a manual search of current publications using Current Contents, was undertaken. Preset criteria were used to categorize study sample and design, and interrater reliability was assessed with a random sample.
Results: A total of 434 publications were evaluated, and 63 studies met the criteria for inclusion. There was 100% interrater agreement on inclusion eligibility and design classification. No controlled trials or analytic studies evaluating routine diagnostic imaging were found. All 63 studies were descriptive, and only 10 were prospective. None of the studies provided evidence of the impact of routine imaging on the development of renal scars and clinical outcomes in children with their first urinary tract infection.
Conclusion: Methodologically sound, prospective studies are needed to assess whether children with their first urinary tract infection who have routine diagnostic imaging are better off than children who have imaging for specific indications. We conclude that the current recommendations are not based on firm evidence.