Urology - Referral Guidelines

The Division of Urology at Children’s National Medical Center is the area’s largest and most experienced group of physicians trained especially to treat children with illnesses of the genitourinary tract. Children’s National pediatric urologists have more than 100 years of combined experience in the diagnosis and treatment of all genitourinary disorders in infants, children, and adolescents. This includes genital reconstruction (undescended testes, hernias, hydroceles, hypospadias, ambiguous genitalia), evaluation and surgical repair of congenital and acquired urinary tract abnormalities (hydronephrosis, posterior urethral valves, vesicoureteral reflux, neuropathic bladders), evaluation and medical management of daytime and nighttime wetting, urinary tract infections, and vesicoureteral reflux. Phone consultations from physicians are encouraged. The physician referral line is 202-476-2670.

Parents may arrange outpatient consultations by phoning 202-476-5042 (option #2). However, evaluation of children who may need imaging studies for urinary tract infections or hydronephrosis is best arranged through the hospital office (202-476-5042 option #3). To reduce the number of trips for the family, radiographic and sonographic evaluation will be arranged for the date of consultation. If studies have been done previously, these should be sent with the patient at the time of the initial visit.

The Division of Urology compiled the following guidelines to assist referring physicians in the evaluation and management of pediatric patients presenting with common urological problems. You can also download a pdf of these guidelines

For additional reference, view Pediatrics, Vol. 110, No 1, July 2002.

Phimosis/NonRetractable Foreskin:

Referral When:

  • Tight foreskin, inability to reduce the foreskin in boys older than 12 years of age that does not improve treatment with at least 6 weeks with steroid cream application. (Betamethasone cream 0.05% applied to foreskin opening twice a day for 6 weeks.)
  • Tight phimosis causing ballooning of foreskin with voiding which persists after treatment with steroid cream as above. 
  • Documentation of recurrent (more than 2 episodes) infection of the glans (balanitis), foreskin (posthitis), or both (balanoposthitis). 
  • Documentation of urinary tract infection in males, especially if associated with abnormal renal US and/or VCUG; a congenital urinary tract anomaly (hydronephrosis, vesicoureteral reflux, posterior urethral valve, prune belly syndrome, myelomeningocele). 
  • History of paraphimosis (inability to replace foreskin over glans penis after it has been retracted). 
  • Trauma to the penis, especially the foreskin. 
  • We do not recommend routine referrals for elective, non-medically indicated circumcisions in boys older than one month of age

Data Needed:

  • Clinic notes 
  • Pertinent laboratory data

Urinary Tract Infection

Referral When:

  • Any child with documented febrile UTI
  • Any male with a documented UTI
  • A female with 2 or more occurrences of afebrile symptomatic UTI.
  • Document urine clearance after appropriate therapeutic treatment for a febrile UTI then place the child on suppressive antibiotics. Prior to the evaluation, children should be on suppressive antibiotics. (Prophylaxis dose = 1/4 daily dose).
  • Any child with symptomatic UTI and congenital spinal dysraphism (myelomeningocele, sacral agenesis) should be referred to the Spina Bifida Clinic with a request to see a Children’s urologist.

Data Needed:

  • Clinic notes 
  • Urine culture documentation (include all)
  • For patients who have undergone US and/or VCUG have patient bring films or CD to appointment.
  • Patients who have not had studies should call 202-476- 5042 (option #3) to set up appropriate imaging studies and consultation at Children’s.

Voiding Dysfunction, Daytime Wetting, and/or Nocturnal Enuresis:

Referral When:

  • Refer to WASH Clinic (Wetting and Soil Help) :
  • Children older than 7 years with isolated bed wetting.
  • Children older than 7 years with day and night wetting.
  • If less than 6 years old.
  • Refer to a pediatric urologist when:
  • Any child with a febrile urinary tract infection with abnormal renal US and/or VCUG
  • Any child with a congenital anatomic genitourinary anomaly (posterior urethral valve, vesicoureteral reflux, hydronephrosis, ureteropelvic junction obstruction, bladder or urethral abnormalities, or genital malformation)

Data Needed:

  • KUB, Urine culture results
  • KUB and pre/post renal bladder sonogram, urine culture results
  • No studies before referral, Urine culture results
  • Clinic notes
  • Urine culture documentation, if available (include all)
  • If radiologic studies have been done, send reports with referral. The patient should bring films or CD to the appointment

Undescended testes, Hydroceles, hernias:

Referral When:

  • Hydroceles that persist beyond 18 months of age (hydroceles in infants usually resolve spontaneously)
  • Reducible hernias.
  • Testicles should be in the scrotum by 6 months of age. Referral should be made if that is not the case or if neither testicle can be felt as a newborn.

Data Needed:

  • No imaging studies should be done prior to referral. Sonography rarely adds to testicular management.


Referral When:

  • Refer between 3-4 months of age.

Data Needed:

  • No imaging studies prior to referral

Prenatal hydronephrosis:

Referral When:

  • Unilateral with normal contralateral kidney – refer 3 to 4 weeks of age.
  • Bilateral or solitary kidney – contact pediatric urologist as soon as possible.

Data Needed:

  • Bring prenatal and postnatal imaging (films or CD) (postnatal sonogram at 2-3 weeks of age)
  • Bring prenatal and postnatal sonogram films or CD, lab work

Jaelynn's Story

"I know that it's very scary to have to think about surgery, but it's been the best thing I could have done for her. I would love to be a support for any other families going through this as well."

Read More of Jaelynn's Story

Children's National in Your Neighborhood

A location marker

Did you know Children’s National has more than 50 locations throughout the region? Find one that’s convenient for your family.

Find a Children's Location Near You