The term CAKUT has outlived its usefulness: the case for the prosecution.

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CAKUT stands for Congenital Anomalies of the Kidney and Urinary Tract, and the acronym first appeared in a review article published in 1998. Since then, CAKUT has become a familiar term encountered in the medical literature, especially in nephrology journals. I reason that the term CAKUT was conceived, not a simple description of various diseases, but more as shorthand for a bold conceptual package that linked the occurrence of diverse types of anatomical malformations with insights from genetic and developmental biology research. Moreover, the angiotensin II receptor was seen as a paradigmatic molecule in the pathobiology of CAKUT. I contend that the acronym, while appearing as an intellectually good idea at the time it was conceived, has outlived its usefulness. To reach these conclusions, I focus on the complex of research observations that led to the theory behind CAKUT, and then question whether these scientific foundations still stand firm. In addition, it is noted that not all clinicians have adopted the acronym, and I speculate why this is the case. I proceed to demonstrate that there is an incompatibility between the semantic meaning of CAKUT and the diseases for which the term was originally conceived. Instead, I suggest the acronym UTM, standing for Urinary Tract Malformation, is a simpler and less ambiguous one to use. Finally, I contend that the continued use of the acronym is a regressive step for the disciplines of nephrology and urology, taking us back two centuries when all kidney diseases were simply called Bright’s disease.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPediatric Nephrology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Apr 2022


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