Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Children

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Quick GuideUrinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptoms Pictures Slideshow

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptoms Pictures Slideshow

What is the treatment for UTIs in children?

Antibiotic therapy for UTIs is based upon the sensitivity profile obtained from the urine-culture results. Cystitis (infection limited to the bladder) should respond quickly to routine oral antibiotics. Pyelonephritis may need hospitalization for intravenous administration of antibiotics along with fluid therapy if the patient is experiencing associated vomiting and dehydration. Oral antibiotic therapy, however, may be appropriate if these complications are not present.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a position statement recommending follow-up studies for children who have experienced a urinary tract infection. Children who should be further evaluated include

  • children 2 months of age to 2 years of age who sustain their first UTI,
  • any male child who experiences a UTI,
  • any child 3 years and older who has had more than one UTI,
  • any child who has had pyelonephritis.

The purpose of the studies detailed below is to accurately define the anatomy and functional physiology of these children who may be at risk for renal scarring and possible complete kidney failure.

  • Renal ultrasound: This procedure helps to define the renal anatomy (kidney location, size, shape).
  • VCUG (voiding cysto-urethrogram): This test involves passage of a catheter into the bladder to fill it with dye. After removal of the catheter, the bladder will empty. A radiologist performs imaging studies to monitor for complete bladder emptying without obstruction and/or backward flow (reflux) of the dye from the bladder into to ureters and up to the kidneys.
  • Renal scan: This test uses a small amount of radioactive material (radioisotope) to measure the function of the kidneys. It is designed to evaluate the functional capability of the kidneys and evaluate for possible renal scarring.
  • IVP (intravenous pyelogram): This is a rarely used test involving injecting dye into the bloodstream via an IV. The dye is excreted via the kidneys and then obtaining X-ray images. The renal ultrasound and renal scan have replaced the usefulness of this test.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/5/2015
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