The incidence of transient renal medullary hyperechogenicity in neonatal ultrasound examination

Br J Radiol. 1997 Feb:70:140-3. doi: 10.1259/bjr.70.830.9135439.


A prospective ultrasound study of the urinary tracts of 85 neonates (64 term, 21 preterm) was performed to assess the incidence of transient renal medullary hyperechogenicity (RMH) in the first week of life. None of the neonates examined had evidence of renal dysfunction. Echogenic material was observed in the renal papillae/calyces, ureter, or bladder of 33 of the 64 term babies, but in the bladder of only one pre-term infant. The distribution of the echogenicity differs from that seen in medullary hyperechogenicity due to crystal deposition, suggesting that calyceal involvement is a common feature. Follow-up ultrasound scans at 10-14 days were possible in eight of the term neonates and demonstrated complete resolution of the RMH. The aetiology of transient neonatal RMH is unclear, although it may be related to protein cast deposition in the renal tubules. RMH may rarely be associated with transient renal dysfunction, but in healthy neonates should be recognized as a normal variant.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kidney Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Kidney Medulla / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography
  • Urinary Tract / diagnostic imaging*