The Magnitude of Fetal Renal Pelvic Dilatation can Identify Obstructive Postnatal Hydronephrosis, and Direct Postnatal Evaluation and Management

Douglas E. Coplen, Paul F. Austin, Yan Yan, Valerie M. Blanco, Jeffrey M. Dicke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Purpose: Up to 1% of prenatal ultrasounds will detect fetal renal pelvic dilatation. We sought to evaluate and determine whether fetal renal pelvic measurements may appropriately direct prenatal counseling and postnatal evaluation and management. Materials and Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected measurements of anteroposterior renal pelvic dilatation obtained at a single fetal maternal medicine center between 1990 and 2003. Fetuses with renal pelvic dilatation 4 mm or greater at less than 33 weeks of gestation, or 7 mm or greater at more than 33 weeks of gestation were evaluated postnatally at a single pediatric urology center. Infants with renal pelvic dilatation were evaluated with ultrasound, voiding cystourethrograms and renal scintigraphy. Renal obstruction was the main outcome measure assessed. Obstruction was defined as the need for surgery and was not based on the renal scan drainage time. Indications for surgery included declining function and increasing hydronephrosis. Results: There were 257 neonates with prenatally detected renal pelvic dilatation. A mean maximum prenatal renal pelvic dilatation of 11.8 mm was seen in 195 patients with nonobstructive dilatation. In the 62 patients with obstruction there was a nearly 2-fold increase in the mean renal pelvic dilatation (22.3 mm), which was statistically significant. Receiver operating characteristic analysis revealed that when 15 mm renal pelvic dilatation is used as a threshold it correctly discriminates obstruction in at least 80% of fetuses with a sensitivity of 73% and a specificity of 82%. Conclusions: The magnitude of fetal renal pelvic dilatation is predictive of obstruction. Our results suggest that 15 mm renal pelvic dilatation represents a significant threshold. Receiver operating characteristic analysis provides a useful guide for prenatal counseling and may help to direct the postnatal evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)724-727
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2006


  • dilatation
  • pathologic
  • prenatal
  • prenatal diagnosis
  • ultrasonography


Dive into the research topics of 'The Magnitude of Fetal Renal Pelvic Dilatation can Identify Obstructive Postnatal Hydronephrosis, and Direct Postnatal Evaluation and Management'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this