Renal cortical scintigraphy with 99Tcm-dimercaptosuccinic acid is an excellent imaging modality for the detection of renal cortical defects in children presenting with vesicoureteric reflux and urinary tract infections. Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) has proven increased sensitivity over planar scintigraphy for lesion detection in the heart, liver and brain. However, its role in the evaluation of renal cortical defects compared to planar scintigraphy has not been fully assessed. We wished to determine whether SPECT increases the sensitivity for detecting renal cortical defects in children compared to high-resolution planar scintigraphy. Forty-one children (90 renal units) with underlying vesicoureteric reflux and/or recently treated urinary tract infection (UTI) were evaluated. There was no statistically significant difference in the number of defects detected between a single-head SPECT system and high-resolution planar scintigraphy, 24 and 20, respectively (P=0.54). There were four defects detected by SPECT not reported by planar scintigraphy; two of these were only seen retrospectively on planar scintigraphy. There were two children with renal cortical defects detected by SPECT and not by planar scintigraphy. All defects detected by planar scintigraphy were detected by SPECT. It is concluded that although the risk of missing renal cortical defects is low when using high-resolution, three-view planar scintigraphy, SPECT should be employed whenever feasible. Single photon emission computed tomography detected renal cortical defects in children not diagnosed by planar scintigraphy and hence patient management may be altered.
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