Conflicting views of physicians and surgeons concerning pediatric urinary tract infection: a comparative review

Ian K. Hewitt, Derek J. Roebuck, Giovanni Montini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: A first febrile urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common condition in children, and pathways of management have evolved over time. Objective: To determine the extent to which pediatricians and surgeons differ in their investigation and management of a first febrile UTI, and to evaluate the justifications for any divergence of approach. Materials and methods: A literature search was conducted for papers addressing investigation and/or management following a first febrile UTI in children published between 2011 and 2021. Searches were conducted on Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register. To be eligible for inclusion, a paper was required to provide recommendations on one or more of the following: ultrasound (US) and voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG), the need for continuous antibiotic prophylaxis and surgery when vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) was detected. The authorship required at least one pediatrician or surgeon. Authorship was categorized as medical, surgical, or combined. Results: Pediatricians advocated less imaging and intervention and were more inclined to adopt a “watchful-waiting” approach, confident that any significant abnormality, grades IV–V VUR in particular, should be detected following a second febrile UTI. In contrast, surgeons were more likely to recommend imaging to detect VUR (p<0.00001), and antibiotic prophylaxis (p<0.001) and/or surgical correction (p=0.004) if it was detected, concerned that any delay in diagnosis and treatment could place the child at risk of kidney damage. Papers with combined authorship displayed intermediate results. Conclusion: There are two distinct directions in the literature regarding the investigation of an uncomplicated first febrile UTI in a child. In general, when presented with a first febrile UTI in a child, physicians recommend fewer investigations and less treatment, in contrast to surgeons who advocate extensive investigation and aggressive intervention in the event that imaging detects an abnormality. This has the potential to confuse the carers of affected children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2651-2661
Number of pages11
JournalPediatric Radiology
Issue number13
Early online date30 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

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