Renal axis deviation in urinary tract abnormalities of children: The role of renal scintigraphy

Kianoush Ansari-Gilani, Ali Gholamrezanezhad, Davood Beiki, Sahar Mirpour, Jamak Modaresi Esfeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Urinary tract pathologies are common in children. Previous reports suggested a relationship between some renal pathologies and renal anatomic variations. This study evaluates the effect of different urinary tract abnormalities on scintigraphic renal long axis. Methods: Children referred to our nuclear medicine department for Tc-99m dimercaptosuccinic acid and/or Tc-99m N,N-ethylenedicysteine renal scintigraphies were entered consecutively. Presence of single, ectopic, or fused kidneys, extrarenal pathologies altering renal long axis, and history of renal surgery or advanced renal disease were used as exclusion criteria. If indicated, patients were assessed for vesicoureteral reflux (VUR). Long renal axis of each kidney was drawn with a line passing through the kidney's upper and lower poles using posterior image. The angle between this axis and patient's longitudinal body axis was defined as "renal angle." After defining age-groups, "age-corrected renal angle" was calculated. Results: A total of 311 cases (622 kidney units) entered the study (183 females, 128 males). Mean age was 41.8 months. Mean "renal angle" was 11.7, 11.9, 14.1, 17.6, 28.5, 16.7, and 19.2 degrees in normal, mild, moderate, and severe VUR, high-grade ureteropelvic junction (UPJ) obstruction, nonobstructive pelvic dilatation, and ureterovesical junction obstruction, respectively (P = 0.000). Applying receiver operating characteristic analysis and using ultrasonography as the gold standard, renal angle deviation of 13.75 degrees led to the sensitivity of 74.6% and specificity of 70.7% to detect pyelocalyceal system dilatation. Using a "renal angle" cutoff value of 18.7 degrees, 85% sensitivity and 85% specificity were achieved for the diagnosis of high-grade UPJ obstruction. Using "age-corrected renal angle," a cutoff value of 3.9 degrees was consistent with 60% sensitivity and 73% specificity for the diagnosis of severe VUR. Conclusion: Considerable renal axis deviation is noted in patients with UPJ obstruction and severe VUR in children. Measurement of "renal angle" provides indirect but useful clues to the presence of urinary tract pathologies. Renal scintigraphy is a useful tool for drawing renal axis and measuring "renal angle," potentially making it useful for prediction of urinary tract system abnormalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1086-1091
Number of pages6
JournalClinical nuclear medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • UPJ obstruction
  • renal axis
  • scintigraphy
  • vesicoureteral reflux

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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