Prevalence of intrarenal reflux in pediatric patients on contrast-enhanced voiding urosonography

Erica L. Klein*, Mary R. Wyers, Francis M. Prendergast, Jennifer Arzu, Ellen C. Benya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Intrarenal reflux may be seen with vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) when contrast from the pelvocalyceal system extends into tubules in the parenchyma. Because intrarenal reflux has been associated with scarring, detecting intrarenal reflux may influence management to avoid renal damage. Objective: Our objective was to evaluate the prevalence of intrarenal reflux identified on contrast-enhanced voiding urosonography (ceVUS) and its association with sex, age, grade of VUR, location in kidney and stage of bladder filling or voiding. Materials and methods: CeVUS studies performed from August 2019 through July 2020 with VUR were retrospectively reviewed by two pediatric radiologists. They independently graded VUR and assessed for intrarenal reflux, noting its location and stage of bladder filling or voiding during which it occurred. The presence and location of scarring was also recorded. Results: One hundred and six ceVUS exams were reviewed with 211 kidneys evaluated (one solitary kidney). Patients were ages 2 weeks to 12 years (mean: 1.8 years) with 71 females (67%) and 35 males (33%). Grades 2 to 5 VUR were detected in 165 kidneys with intrarenal reflux seen in 42 (25.4%). Intrarenal reflux was present in 1 of 40 kidneys (2.5%) with grade 2, 10 of 67 (14.9%) with grade 3, 25 of 47 (53.2%) with grade 4 and 6 of 11 (54.5%) with grade 5 VUR. Intrarenal reflux occurred during voiding in 31 of 42 kidneys (73.8%) and was seen most often in the lower pole (71.4%) with significant association between intrarenal reflux and interpolar renal scarring (odds ration [OR] 3.92; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.49, 10.32; P-value 0.01). Conclusion: Intrarenal reflux was often seen on ceVUS, with the highest frequency occurring in young patients with grades 4 and 5 VUR and during voiding. Radiologists should have a high index of suspicion for intrarenal reflux on ceVUS, especially in young children with high-grade VUR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-393
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric radiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Children
  • Intrarenal reflux
  • Kidney
  • Ultrasound contrast
  • Vesicoureteral reflux
  • Voiding urosonography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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