JOURNAL ARTICLE

Changing concepts concerning the management of vesicoureteral reflux

C D Herndon, M DeCambre, P H McKenna
Journal of Urology 2001, 166 (4): 1439-43
11547107

PURPOSE: Conservative estimates indicate that up to 54% of patients who present with vesicoureteral reflux have dysfunction voiding. Children with voiding dysfunction and vesicoureteral reflux historically have a high breakthrough infection rate of 34% to 43%. Breakthrough infection represents significant morbidity and it is the most common indication for surgical intervention for vesicoureteral reflux. Voiding dysfunction is present in 79% of patients who proceed to reflux surgery. We evaluated the impact of pelvic floor muscle retraining combined with a medical program in patients with voiding dysfunction and vesicoureteral reflux.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Children with a history consistent with voiding dysfunction and vesicoureteral reflux were screened by uroflowmetry/electromyography, bladder scan for post-void residual urine, renal ultrasound and voiding cystourethrography. Confirmed cases of voiding dysfunction and vesicoureteral reflux were prospectively enrolled in this study. Children participated in an interactive, computer assisted, pelvic floor muscle retraining program that involved a conservative medical regimen and pelvic floor muscle retraining. All patients received prophylactic antibiotics. We evaluated the rate of breakthrough urinary tract infection, reflux outcome and surgical intervention. A literature review with the key words vesicoureteral reflux, voiding dysfunction and urinary tract infection was performed to identify historical control cases for comparison.

RESULTS: Study enrollment criteria were fulfilled by 49 girls and 4 boys 4 to 13 years old (average age 8.8), representing 72 units with low grades I to II (48) and high grades III to V (24) reflux. Mean followup was 24 months. Initial uroflowmetry/electromyography and bladder scan revealed a staccato flow pattern and normal post-void residual urine in 11% of cases, staccato flow pattern and elevated post-void residual urine in 10%, flattened flow pattern and normal post-void residual urine in 28%, and flattened flow pattern and elevated post-void residual urine in 51%. Breakthrough infection developed in 5 patients (10%), including 1 in whom reflux had resolved and 1 with grade I reflux who underwent observation. The parents of 2 patients elected to complete biofeedback without surgical intervention and these patients did not have a repeat infection. Reimplantation was performed in 1 case (2%). There was resolution in 18 low and 7 high grade refluxing units, including 2 older patients with a long history of high grade bilateral disease. Average time to resolution was 7.8 months. We noted elevated post-void residual urine in 88% of the patients with high grade reflux. Average age at resolution was 9.2 years. During a 24-month period one of us (P. H. M.) noted a greater than 90% decrease in surgical intervention.

CONCLUSIONS: A combined conservative medical and computer game assisted pelvic floor muscle retraining program appears to have decreased the incidence of breakthrough urinary tract infections and facilitated reflux resolution in children with voiding dysfunction and vesicoureteral reflux. Patients with high grade reflux and voiding dysfunction commonly present with elevated post-void residual urine, contraindicating the indiscriminate administration of anticholinergics. Decreasing the rate of urinary tract infections may have a dramatic impact on the need for surgical intervention and enable the reflux resolution rate to approximate that in patients without voiding dysfunction. Prospective controlled trials are needed to determine whether pelvic floor muscle retraining combined with a conservative medical regimen alters the natural history of vesicoureteral reflux in patients with voiding dysfunction.

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