The Journal of Urology vol:178 issue:4 pages:1570-74
PURPOSE: Although fetal kidneys have only 10% of their postnatal blood flow, fetal renal development is essential for normal postnatal function. In addition, to our knowledge it is unknown whether human fetal kidney development follows a linear or exponential evolution. We created normative magnetic resonance imaging curves for the kidney prenatal growth pattern in relation to gestational age.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 142 human fetuses at between 20 and 36 weeks of gestation underwent prenatal magnetic resonance imaging for nonurological pathology (pulmonary, cerebral or maternal abnormalities). Twins, urinary tract abnormalities, oligohydramnios or anhydramnios were excluded. T2-weighted images (single shot turbo spin-echo) were used to measure kidney variables. Bipolar and anteroposterior diameters of the 2 kidneys were measured and correlated with gestational age using linear regression analysis.
RESULTS: A linear relationship of the bipolar and anteroposterior diameters was found according to gestational age in weeks (p <0.0001). No substantial differences between growth of the left and right fetal kidneys was identified. Bipolar length of the human fetal kidney increases at an average rate of 1.24 mm per week of gestation, while anteroposterior diameter increases at 0.57 mm per week of gestation between weeks 20 and 36. This indicates that bipolar diameter increases twice as rapidly as anteroposterior diameter. Regression analysis curves showed a good fit to the measured data points (anteroposterior and bipolar measurements R2 = 0.36 and 0.58, respectively). The CIs of function variables were small, enabling their use as normative curves.
CONCLUSIONS: This prenatal magnetic resonance imaging study demonstrates linear growth of the bipolar and anteroposterior diameters of human fetal kidneys in relation to gestational age. In addition, it is clear that bipolar diameter grows twice as rapidly as anteroposterior diameter and there is less variability for bipolar diameter. These normative curves may allow us to detect abnormal fetal evolution.