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Special Communication
January 2018

Perinatal Diagnosis, Management, and Follow-up of Cystic Renal Diseases: A Clinical Practice Recommendation With Systematic Literature Reviews

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of General Pediatrics, Adolescent Medicine and Neonatology, Center for Pediatrics at Medical Center–University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
  • 2Department of Pediatric Radiology, Jeanne de Flandre Mother and Child Hospital, University of Lille, Lille, France
  • 3Department of Medicine IV at Medical Center–University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
  • 4Center for Human Genetics, Bioscientia, Ingelheim, Germany
  • 5Department of Pediatrics II, University Hospital Essen, Essen, Germany
  • 6Department of Pediatrics and Center for Molecular Medicine, University Hospital of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
  • 7Department of Pediatric Kidney, Liver and Metabolic Diseases, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
  • 8Department of General Pediatrics, University Children’s Hospital, Münster, Germany
  • 9Department of Pediatrics and Center for Molecular Medicine, University Hospital of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
  • 10Nephrology Research Laboratory, Department II of Internal Medicine, University Hospital of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
  • 11Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
  • 12Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital Marburg, Marburg, Germany
  • 13UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, England
  • 14Division of Pediatric Nephrology, Center for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Heidelberg University Hospital, Heidelberg, Germany
JAMA Pediatr. 2018;172(1):74-86. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.3938
Key Points

Question  How should prenatal and neonatal cystic kidney disease be treated according to the best available evidence?

Findings  Eight systematic literature reviews (90 studies) revealed an extremely variable etiology and prognosis of perinatal cystic kidney disease, with ultrasound being the most useful diagnostic tool but some evidence for focused genetic diagnostics and/or complementary magnetic resonance imaging. While most prenatal therapeutic interventions lack adequate evidence, postnatal prognosis has improved with neonatal intensive care and renal replacement therapy for neonates, which is now an established therapeutic option.

Meaning  These clinical practice guidelines delineate current evidence in managing perinatal cystic nephropathies and stress the need for multiprofessional counseling by adequately specialized obstetricians and pediatricians, as well as shared decision making in moderate to severe cases.


Importance  Prenatal and neonatal cystic kidney diseases are a group of rare disorders manifesting as single, multiple unilateral, or bilateral cysts or with increased echogenicity of the renal cortex without macroscopic cysts. They may be accompanied by grossly enlarged kidneys, renal oligohydramnios, pulmonary hypoplasia, extrarenal abnormalities, and neonatal kidney failure. The prognosis is extremely variable from trivial to very severe or even uniformly fatal, which poses significant challenges to prenatal counseling and management.

Objective  To provide a clinical practice recommendation for fetal medicine specialists, obstetricians, neonatologists, pediatric nephrologists, pediatricians, and human geneticists by aggregating current evidence and consensus expert opinion on current management of cystic nephropathies before and after birth.

Methods  After 8 systematic literature reviews on clinically relevant questions were prepared (including 90 studies up to mid-2016), recommendations were formulated and formally graded at a consensus meeting that included experts from all relevant specialties. After further discussion, the final version was voted on by all members using the Delphi method. The recommendations were reviewed and endorsed by the working groups on inherited renal disorders of the European Renal Association–European Dialysis and Transplant Association (ERA-EDTA) and European Society for Paediatric Nephrology (ESPN); the German Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology (DGGG), German Society of Perinatal Medicine (DGPM), and German Society of Ultrasound in Medicine (DEGUM); and the alliance of patient organizations, PKD International.

Recommendations  The group makes a number of recommendations on prenatal and postnatal imaging by ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging, genetic testing, prenatal counseling, in utero therapeutic interventions, and postnatal management of prenatal and neonatal cystic kidney diseases, including provision of renal replacement therapy in neonates. In addition to detailed knowledge about possible etiologies and their prognosis, physicians need to be aware of recent improvements and remaining challenges of childhood chronic kidney disease, neonatal renal replacement therapy, and intensive pulmonary care to manage these cases and to empower parents for informed decision making.

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