Prenatal diagnosis of LUTO: improving diagnostic accuracy

F. Fontanella*, L. K. Duin, P. N. Adama van Scheltema, T. E. Cohen-Overbeek, E. Pajkrt, M. Bekker, C. Willekes, C. J. Bax, V. Gracchi, D. Oepkes, C. M. Bilardo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective To propose a clinical score for the optimal antenatal diagnosis of fetal lower urinary tract obstruction (LUTO) in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, as an alternative to the commonly used ultrasound triad of megacystis, keyhole sign and hydronephrosis.

Methods This was a national retrospective study carried out at the eight tertiary fetal medicine units (FMUs) in The Netherlands. Only cases referred for megacystis from the second trimester onwards and with a clear postnatal diagnosis were included in the study. At referral, data were collected on amniotic fluid volume, renal cortical appearance, bladder volume, hydronephrosis, fetal ascites, ureteral size, keyhole sign, fetal sex and gestational age. Multivariate analysis was performed, starting by including all antenatal variables, and then excluding the weakest predictors using the backward stepwise strategy.

Results Over a 7-year period, 312 fetuses with a diagnosis of megacystis were referred to the eight Dutch tertiary FMUs. A final diagnosis was achieved in 143 cases, including 124 of LUTO and 19 reclassified after birth as non-obstructive megacystis. The optimal bladder volume cut-off for prediction of LUTO was 35 cm(3) (area under the curve (AUC) = 0.7, P = 0.03). The clinical score formulated on the basis of the multivariate analysis included fetal sex, degree of bladder distension, ureteral size, oligo-or anhydramnios and gestational age at referral. The combination of these five variables demonstrated good accuracy in discriminating LUTO from non-obstructive megacystis (AUC = 0.84, P <0.001), compared with the poor performance of the ultrasound triad (AUC = 0.63, P = 0.07).

Conclusions We propose a clinical score that combines five antenatal variables for the prospective diagnosis of congenital LUTO. This score showed good discriminative capacity in predicting LUTO, and better diagnostic accuracy compared with that of the classic ultrasound triad. Future studies to validate these results should be carried out in order to refine antenatal management of LUTO and prevent inappropriate fetal interventions. (C) 2017 The Authors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-743
Number of pages5
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • lower urinary tract obstruction
  • LUTO
  • megacystis
  • prenatal diagnosis

Cite this