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Reflux Nephropathy - Should the family be tested for reflux nephropathy?


Should the family be tested for reflux nephropathy?

There is no general agreement amongst doctors about who should have screening for reflux nephropathy if one person in a family is known to have the condition. Many doctors say that all the brothers, sisters and children of someone with reflux should be tested. Other doctors say that if reflux has not caused severe kidney damage, it is not necessary to screen adults who are fit and well. However if a close adult relative of someone with reflux nephropathy has urine infections or high blood pressure or protein in the urine, they should be tested for the condition. It is also generally agreed that babies with either a mother or father with reflux should be tested at an early age, since kidney damage starts at an early age and can be prevented in many cases with careful treatment.

Because reflux of urine is common and usually gets better on its own, most cases are not detected and family screening does not occur. This may not matter. However, if a family member has had reflux nephropathy with kidney failure or severe damage to a kidney, family screening would be sensible. In older children and adults, a urine test for protein and an ultrasound scan of the kidneys would detect any serious damage. If someone has had a series of urine infections, further tests may be necessary, but a specialist should be consulted. Occasionally, a scan of a baby’s kidneys while it is still in the mother’s womb will show some signs of reflux. His does not necessarily mean that the baby will have badly damaged kidneys, but specialist care should be given.

The National Kidney Federation cannot accept responsibility for information provided. The above is for guidance only. Patients are advised to seek further information from their own doctor.

NKF Controlled Document No. 15: Should the family be tested for reflux nephropathy? written: 28/10/2002 last reviewed: 17/07/2017