Evaluation of fetal kidney growth using ultrasound: A systematic review

Sonja Brennan, David Watson, Donna Rudd, Michal Schneider, Yogavijayan Kandasamy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose To determine the role of ultrasound imaging in evaluating fetal kidney growth. Methods MEDLINE, CINAHL and EMBASE databases were electronically searched for studies between 1996 and January 2017 and limited to English language. Studies were included if they reported on an ultrasound technique to assess fetal kidney growth and they were not a case report or case series. There was independent selection of studies by two reviewers in consensus with one other reviewer. Data were extracted by one reviewer in consensus with two other reviewers. Results A total of 1785 articles were identified. The full text of 39 of these were assessed for eligibility for inclusion. Twenty-eight studies were then included in the review. Standard two dimensional (2D) fetal renal measurements are easy to perform, however, this review identified that most studies had some methodological limitations. The disadvantage with 2D and three dimensional (3D) fetal renal volumes are that they include the entire kidney and good reproducibility of 3D volumes has not yet been demonstrated. Currently there is limited research on fetal kidney growth in the setting of abnormal fetal growth. Research focussing directly on fetal kidney parenchyma and blood flow is scarce. Conclusions Some nomograms of 2D and 3D fetal kidney size and volume have been developed. Kidney length is the most popular single fetal kidney measurement; however, it does not seem to be a good indicator of growth. In IUGR fetuses, kidney length remained similar to appropriately grown fetuses whereas AP and TS dimensions were significantly decreased. New ultrasound techniques focusing on the parenchyma of the kidney and perfusion to the kidney should be explored as they may provide more meaningful information on kidney development in the fetus and future kidney function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-64
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Radiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • Fetal kidney
  • Obstetric ultrasonography
  • Prenatal diagnosis
  • Renal
  • Ultrasound

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