Controversies in the diagnosis and management of urinary tract infections in children

Gaurang Shah, Jyoti Upadhyay
Paediatric Drugs 2005, 7 (6): 339-46
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common childhood bacterial infections, after upper respiratory tract and middle ear infections. The current goal of management is to prevent detrimental effects of UTI by early detection and treatment. Recommendations for the imaging of children depend upon age at presentation and sex. All children aged <5 years who have had a febrile UTI require a radiologic evaluation to identify any underlying genitourinary pathology. Older children can undergo a more tailored work-up depending on whether there is a febrile UTI or cystitis-type symptoms. Dysfunctional voiding and urge syndrome significantly increase the risk of developing UTIs in children. Vesicoureteral reflux can increase the risk of pyelonephritis and renal scarring in children with UTIs. For the most part, pyelonephritis can be diagnosed on clinical grounds in the majority of patients and a subsequent (99m)Tc-dimercaptosuccinic acid scan can be reserved to identify post-nephritic renal scarring. When renal scarring is identified, the child and parents need to be educated regarding the possibility of hypertension, proteinuria, progressive nephropathy, and the risk of complications in future pregnancies. Treatment of UTI is started in the unwell child before the culture results are available and subsequently changed to culture-specific antimicrobial therapy. A short course of treatment is required for acute uncomplicated UTIs. A child with acute pyelonephritis requires 10-14 days of antibacterial treatment. The oral route in young children often causes vomiting, which implies therapeutic delay, a well known risk factor for scarring.

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