Renal Ultrasound

A renal ultrasound is one of the safest tests that are used to get the images of ureters, kidneys and urinary bladder. Basically, the kidneys are a pair of bean shaped organs that are located towards or at the back of the abdominal cavity, immediately above the waist. Their primary function is to remove waste through creation of urine. The ureters are urine transporters; they are thin tubes which mainly transport the urine from the kidney to the urinary bladder. The urine from the bladder is then transported out of the body through the urethra. During renal ultrasound, the ultrasound machine works simply by sending sound waves into the kidney region and then the images are clearly recorded on a computer. The images appear as black and white areas, showing vividly the internal kidney structure and the structure of the other related organs.

Why Is a Renal Ultrasound Taken?

The kidney or renal ultrasound is done to assess the location, size, and shape of the kidneys as well as other related organs or structures such as urinary bladder and ureters. Renal ultrasound has the ability to detect tumors, cysts, abscesses, fluid collection, obstructions and also infections around the kidney area. For instance, the calculi (stones), which mainly affect the ureters and the kidneys, can be detected easily by the ultrasound machine.

The kidney ultrasound may become relevant when performing biopsy of the kidneys. It may help in needle placement for draining fluid from an abscess or a cyst and also can be used while placing the drainage tube. In addition, this method can also be used to determine the blood flow in and out of the kidneys via the renal arteries and veins. When someone undergoes a kidney transplant, this method may be used to monitor and evaluate the transplanted kidney; however, there can be other reasons or heath conditions that may require an ultrasound besides the kidney conditions.

How Is a Renal Ultrasound Done?

1. Before the Procedure

Before the procedure commences, the physician will try to explain to you the process and how it’s done and then give you an opportunity to enquire anything or if you have any question regarding the procedure. Then, you may be offered with a consent form requiring you to signin order to guarantee permission for the procedure to be undertaken. It’s advised to read the form carefully and ask any thing that you may not be satisfied with or do any other enquiries. There are no initial preparations prior to these procedures such as sedation or fasting. Then a gel is usually applied to your body, although it does not stain your clothing, but some people will prefer wearing old clothes during the renal ultrasound since the gel might not be completely removed from your skin. You should not empty your bladder in case it’s to be studied and the physician may require some other preparations depending on your medical condition.

2. During the Procedure

A kidney ultrasound procedure can be performed as you stay in hospital or on an outpatient basis, depending on the condition and your physician recommendations or practices. It follows the following process:

  • You will need to remove all your clothing, jewelry or any other objects on your body that may interfere with the scan and a gown is given to you to wear for the exam.
  • You will then lie on the examination table with your stomach facing down.
  • A clear gel is applied on the area to be examined.
  • A transducer is pressed against your skin at around the area to be studied.
  • If it’s the blood flow that is being assessed, you can hear a “whoosh, whoosh” sound while the examination is performed.
  • After bladder examination, you may be asked to empty it and additional scans performed on it.
  • Finally, after completion of the procedure, the gel will then be wiped off.

Any discomfort that can be caused by lying down on your belly can be minimized by performing the procedure as quickly as possible.

3. After the Procedure

There exists no specialized types of care especially after a kidney ultrasound, you can resume your usual activities and normal diet, and this is if your physician does not advise you otherwise. However, your physician can give you alternative or additional instruction in regard to your situation or condition.

Here is a video to show you how a renal ultrasound is performed:

What Are the Risks of Taking a Renal Ultrasound?

This method does not use the radiation in its examination, and there is no discomfort to the patient with the application of the of ultrasound transducer on the skin. However, we can’t rule out everything, and there could be risks especially depending on your specific medical condition. That is why it’s advised to talk to your doctor before the examination if you have any concerns. There are certain conditions or factors that may interfere with the examination results during the test. Some of them include the following:

  • Severe obesity
  • Intestinal gas
  • Barium in the intestines following a recent barium procedure