Prune belly syndrome is a rare, genetic, birth defect affecting about 1 in 40,000 births. About 97% of those affected are male. Prune belly syndrome is a congenital disorder of the urinary system, characterized by a triad of symptoms. The syndrome is named for the mass of wrinkled skin that is often (but not always) present on the abdomens of those with the disorder. Other names for the syndrome include Abdominal Muscle Deficiency Syndrome, Congenital Absence of the Abdominal Muscles, Eagle-Barrett Syndrome, Obrinsky Syndrome, Fröhlich Syndrome, or rarely, Triad Syndrome.
Prune belly syndrome can be diagnosed via ultrasound while a child is still in-utero. An abnormally large abdominal mass is the key indicator, as the abdomen swells with the pressure of accumulated urine. In young children, frequent urinary tract infections often herald prune belly syndrome, as they are normally uncommon. If a problem is suspected, doctors can perform blood tests to check kidney function. Another test that may reveal the syndrome is the voiding cystourethrogram.
A genetic predisposition has been suggested, and PBS is much more common when the baby is a twin, although all reported twin births have been discordant.
Prune belly syndrome can result in the distending and enlarging of internal organs such as the bladder and intestines. Surgery is often required to return these organs to their natural sizes.
The type of treatment, like that of most disorders, depends on the severity of the symptoms. One option is to perform a vesicostomy, which allows the bladder to drain through a small hole in the abdomen. A more drastic procedure is a surgical "remodeling" of the abdominal wall and urinary tract. Boys may have an orchiopexy, which moves the testicles to their proper place in the scrotum.
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