Prune belly syndrome is a serious and in some cases can be a life-threatening problem. As the name implies, prune belly syndrome is characterised by an abdomen with a wrinkly or 'prune-like' appearance. This is because, while in the womb, the developing baby's tummy swells with fluid. The fluid disappears after birth, leading to a wrinkled abdomen that looks like a prune. The appearance is more noticeable due to the lack of abdominal muscles.
The range of urinary tract anomalies varies widely in prune belly syndrome from an inability to completely empty the bladder to a more serious enlargement of the kidneys, ureter and bladder. A child may experience frequent urinary tract infections.
In most affected males, the testes are small and reside in the abdomen (tummy). Sperm are also thought to be absent or do not form properly. Rarely, neoplasias (malignant changes) have been reported in the testes, meaning that there is the potential for them to become cancerous.
Complications associated with prune belly syndrome may include pulmonary hypoplasia (underdevelopment of the lungs), heart anomalies, gastrointestinal abnormalities and musculoskeletal (bone/muscle) abnormalities.