BACKGROUND: Bacteriuria is common post-transplant. However, most studies are in adults with a short follow-up. We have assessed the incidence of bacteriuria, predisposing causes and its effect on short and long-term graft function in children. METHODS: The notes of 142 children (67% male) who received 168 kidney transplants (138 cadaveric) between 1987 and 1994 were studied. The mean age at transplantation was 9.0 +/- 4.5 years, and 32 children were transplanted pre-emptively. Diagnoses reflected those found in any children's renal failure programme. RESULTS: Two hundred and thirty one episodes of bacteriuria were detected in 66 patients patients (46%): a rate of one episode per 23 patient months of follow-up. Fifty two percent were during the first year, and 29% of these during the first 4 weeks post-transplant. Forty two children (28%) had recurrences. The incidence was not affected by sex, vesico-ureteric reflux into native kidneys, donor source, circumcision in boys, dialysis pre-transplant or acute rejection. Bacteriuria was significantly more common in patients with a history of bacteriuria before transplant (P < 0.005) and with bladder pathology (P < 0.001). Organisms were predominantly coliforms (41%); 70% were Gram-negative. Sixty percent were resistant to the prescribed antibiotic prophylaxis. There was an associated transient rise in plasma creatinine concentration: mean pre-episode 111 +/- 86 mumol/l vs mean post-episode 134 +/- 108 mumol/l (P < 0.0001). Seventy two percent of episodes were asymptomatic, but even in this group 81% had an associated rise in plasma creatinine (P < 0.001). Despite this, there was no significant decrease in glomerular filtration rate in patients with bacteriuria compared with patients without at the end of follow-up: 50 vs 56 ml/min/1.73 m2 respectively. CONCLUSION: Bacteriuria is common post-transplant, occurring most often in those with bladder pathology or with a history of bacteriuria pre-transplant.
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