Urinary tract infections in children. Epidemiology, evaluation, and management

Pediatr Clin North Am. 1997 Oct;44(5):1133-69. doi: 10.1016/s0031-3955(05)70551-4.


Accurate documentation of UTIs in children is essential for proper evaluation and management. Urine cultures with multiple organisms or colony counts less than 50,000 to 100,000 CFU/ml should be considered suspect and require confirmation, particularly with clean-catch specimens. Children with well-documented UTIs should be evaluated based on their age and presenting symptoms. Infants and young children require imaging, usually with a cystogram and sonogram of the kidneys and bladder. Older girls with febrile UTIs and boys at any age should also be considered for urinary tract imaging. Renal cortical scintigraphy with 99mTc-DMSA has emerged as the imaging study of choice for acute pyelonephritis and renal scarring in children with UTIs. Treatment of UTIs in children ideally commences with culture-specific antimicrobial therapy, although treatment may be started in sick children before culture results are available. Short-course treatment (3-5 days) is sufficient for children with acute uncomplicated lower UTIs. Children with acute pyelonephritis require 10 to 14 days of antibiotics, which can be administered on an outpatient basis in older infants and children who are not toxic, as long as good compliance is expected. Patients with first-time UTIs who require imaging should be maintained on low-dose antibiotic prophylaxis until their workup is completed. Treatment of ABU does not seem necessary if the urinary tract is otherwise normal. Long-term antibiotic prophylaxis is indicated for children with frequent symptomatic recurrences of UTI and for those with known VUR. Diagnosis and treatment of underlying voiding dysfunction and constipation is an essential component of the successful management of UTIs in children.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Bacteriuria / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cystitis / therapy
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Pyelonephritis / etiology
  • Pyelonephritis / physiopathology
  • Pyelonephritis / therapy
  • Urinary Tract Infections* / diagnosis
  • Urinary Tract Infections* / epidemiology
  • Urinary Tract Infections* / microbiology
  • Urinary Tract Infections* / therapy


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents