The results of serial dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) imaging over 5 years are reported in 287 children with severe vesico-ureteral reflux entered into the European Branch of the International Reflux Study in Children. The children were randomly allocated to medical (n=147) or surgical (n=140) management and DMSA studies were performed during the follow up period at least 6 months after any urinary tract infection. Abnormal images were classified into four types: (1) large polar hypodensity with normal renal outline; (2) peripheral photon deficient defect(s) in a non-deformed kidney; (3) small renal image with normal contour; and (4) peripheral defect(s) with resultant irregularity of the renal outline. The DMSA findings were abnormal at entry in 235 (82%) with no difference in incidence or severity between the two treatment groups. During follow up, deterioration was observed in 25 medically and 23 surgically treated patients and comprised image deterioration alone in 17, image deterioration with corresponding reduction in differential function in 16 and reduction in relative function without image change in 15, with similar distribution between the two treatment groups. Deterioration was more frequent in children entering the study under the age of 2 years and in those with grade IV rather than grade III reflux. These findings, showing no difference in outcome between children managed surgically or medically, are consistent with the radiological results already published.
Conclusion: In the International Reflux Study the DMSA scintigraphic data showed no difference in outcome between children managed surgically or medically.