Screening siblings of index patients with vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) has been proposed to identify children who are at risk for renal damage. However, screening siblings for VUR remains controversial. We investigated the prevalence of VUR and renal cortical abnormalities in the sibling population in a large cohort of families with VUR.


Between 1998 and 2012, parents of index patients with grade III to V VUR were asked permission to screen siblings <6 years of age for VUR. Siblings were divided into 2 groups: siblings with a documented history of a previous urinary tract infection (UTI) and siblings who were screened for VUR and never had a UTI. A logistic regression model was used to determine independent risk factors associated with renal cortical abnormalities such as history of presentation, age, gender, and grade of VUR.


There were 318 siblings in 275 families in the study. VUR was found after screening in 190 (60%) siblings and after a UTI in 128 (40%). Multivariate analysis revealed that siblings who had a previous UTI (odds ratio: 3.38), siblings with high grade reflux (odds ratio: 3.62), and siblings over 1 year of age (odds ratio: 2.84) were the most significant independent risk factors associated with renal cortical abnormalities.


There is increased risk of renal cortical abnormalities in siblings with a previous UTI, siblings with high-grade VUR, and siblings over age 1 year. This information may help to counsel parents about the risk of VUR and reflux nephropathy in familial VUR.

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