Cost and radiation exposure in the workup of febrile pediatric urinary tract infections

Jason E. Michaud, Natasha Gupta, Timothy S. Baumgartner, Brian Kim, Thangamadhan Bosemani, Ming Hsien Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background Technetium-99m dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) scans are often used in the evaluation of pediatric patients with febrile urinary tract infections (UTIs). Given the prevalence of febrile UTIs, we sought to quantify the cost, radiation exposure, and clinical utility of DMSA scans when compared with dedicated pediatric renal ultrasounds (RUSs). Materials and methods An institutional review board approved retrospective study of children under the age of 18 years evaluated at our institution for febrile UTIs between the years 2004-2013 was conducted. The patients had to meet all of the following inclusion criteria: a diagnosis of vesicoureteral reflux, a fever >38°C, a positive urine culture, and evaluation with a DMSA scan and RUS. A chart review was used to construct a cost analysis of technical and professional fees, radiographic results, and radiation dose equivalents. Results Overall, 104 children met the inclusion criteria. A total of 122 RUS and 135 DMSA scans were performed. The technical costs of a DMSA scan incurred a 35% cost premium as compared to an RUS. The average effective radiation dose of a single DMSA scan was 2.84 mSv. New radiographic findings were only identified on 7% of those patients who underwent greater than 1 DMSA scan. Conclusions The utility of the unique information acquired from a DMSA scan as compared to a RUS in the evaluation of febrile UTI must be evaluated on an individual case-by-case basis given the increased direct costs and radiation exposure to the patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-318
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 15 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Radionuclide imaging
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Vesicoureteral reflux

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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