Interventions for primary vesicoureteric reflux

Gabrielle Williams, Elisabeth M. Hodson, Jonathan C. Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background Vesicoureteric reflux (VUR) results in urine passing retrograde up the ureter. Urinary tract infections (UTI) associated with VUR have been considered a cause of permanent renal parenchymal damage in children with VUR. Management has been directed at preventing UTI by antibiotic prophylaxis and/or surgical correction of VUR. This is an update of a review first published in 2004 and updated in 2007 and 2011. Objectives The aim of this review was to evaluate the available evidence for both benefits and harms of the currently available treatment options for primary VUR: operative, non-operative or no intervention. Search methods We searched the Cochrane Kidney and Transplant Specialised Register to 3 May 2018 through contact with the Information Specialist using search terms relevant to this review. Studies contained in the Specialised Register are identified through search strategies specifically designed for CENTRAL, MEDLINE, and EMBASE; handsearching conference proceedings, and searching the International Clinical Trials Register (ICTRP) Search Portal and Selection criteria RCTs in any language comparing any treatment of VUR and any combination of therapies. Data collection and analysis Two authors independently determined study eligibility, assessed quality and extracted data. Dichotomous outcomes were expressed as risk ratios (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) and continuous data as mean differences (MD) with 95% CI. Data were pooled using the random effects model. Main results Thirty four studies involving 4001 children were included. Interventions included; long-term low-dose antibiotics, surgical reimplantation of ureters, endoscopic injection treatment, probiotics, cranberry products, circumcision, and oxybutynin. Interventions were used alone and in combinations. The quality of conduct and reporting of these studies was variable, with many studies omitting crucial methodological information used to assess the risk of bias. Only four of the 34 studies were considered at low risk of bias across all fields of study quality. The majority of studies had many areas of uncertainty in the risk of bias fields, reflecting missing detail rather than stated poor design. Low-dose antibiotic prophylaxis compared to no treatment/placebo may make little or no diHerence to the risk of repeat symptomatic UTI (9 studies, 1667 children: RR 0.77, 95% CI 0.54 to 1.09; low certainty evidence) and febrile UTI (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.56 to 1.21; low certaintyevidence) at one to two years. At one to three years, antibiotic prophylaxis made little or no diHerence to the risk of new or progressive renal damage on DMSA scan (8 studies, 1503 children: RR 0.73, 95% CI 0.33 to 1.61; low certainty evidence). Adverse events were reported in four studies with little or no diHerence between treatment groups (1056 children: RR 0.94, 95% CI 0.81 to 1.08; ), but antibiotics increased the likelihood of bacterial drug resistance threefold (187 UTIs: RR 2.97, 95% CI 1.54 to 5.74; moderate certainty evidence). Seven studies compared long-term antibiotic prophylaxis alone with surgical reimplantation of ureters plus antibiotics, but only two reported the outcome febrile UTI (429 children). Surgery plus antibiotic treatment may reduce the risk of repeat febrile UTI by 57% (RR 0.43, 95% CI 0.27 to 0.70; moderate certainty evidence). There was little or no diHerence in the risk of new kidney defects detected using intravenous pyelogram at 4 to 5 years (4 studies, 572 children, RR 1.09, 95% CI 0.79 to 1.49; moderate certainty evidence) Four studies compared endoscopic injection with antibiotics alone and three reported the outcome febrile UTI. This analysis showed little or no diHerence in the risk of febrile UTI with endoscopic injection compared to antibiotics (RR 0.74, 95% CI 0.31 to 1.78; low certainty evidence). Four studies involving 425 children compared two diHerent materials for endoscopic injection under the ureters (polydimethylsiloxane (Macroplastique) versus dextranomer/hyaluronic acid polymer (Deflux), glutaraldehyde cross-linked (GAX) collagen (GAX) 35 versus GAX 65 and Deflux versus polyacrylate polyalcohol copolymer (VANTRIS)) but only one study (255 children, low certainty evidence) had the outcome of febrile UTI and it reported no diHerence between the materials. All four studies reported rates of resolution of VUR, and the two studies comparing Macroplastique with Deflux showed that Macroplastique was probably superior to dextranomer/ hyaluronic acid polymer (3 months: RR 0.50, 95% CI 0.33 to 0.78; 12 months: RR 0.54 95% CI 0.35 to 0.83; low certainty evidence) Two studies compared probiotic treatment with antibiotics and showed little or no diHerence in risk of repeat symptomatic UTI (RR 0.82 95% CI 0.56 to 1.21; low certainty evidence) Single studies compared circumcision with antibiotics, cranberry products with no treatment, oxybutynin with placebo, two diHerent surgical techniques and endoscopic injection with no treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD001532
Pages (from-to)CD001532
JournalThe Cochrane database of systematic reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2019


  • Acrylic Resins [therapeutic use]
  • Urinary tract infections [complications; drug therapy]
  • Urinary tract infections [*prevention & control]
  • Vesico-ureteral reflux [complications; *therapy]
  • Antibiotic prophylaxis


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