What is Kidney Ultrasound?
A kidney ultrasound is a safe and painless radiology exam. It is performed to assess the shape, size, and location of the kidneys and related structures such as the bladder and ureters in a non-invasive manner.
This scan is also known as Renal Ultrasound. In this scan, multiple images of the structures and blood vessels within the kidneys are generated using sound waves.
The kidney ultrasound helps doctors in assessing blood flow to the kidneys and detecting blockages such as kidney stones. It also helps in the diagnosis and management of chronic kidney diseases and urinary tract infections and detecting abnormalities such as cysts or tumors, which then can be tested for cancer if needed.
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Who Should Get a Kidney Ultrasound?
Your doctor may recommend an ultrasound of the kidneys if you have one or more of the following ailments or symptoms:
- Increase or decrease in the frequency of urination
- Brown, red, or purple urine
- Foamy or bubbly urine
- Trouble thinking clearly
- Fatigue and weakness
- High blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle cramps and twitches
- Severe itching
- Shortness of breath
- Sleep problems
- Swelling of ankles and feet
- Chest pain
What is the Purpose of a Kidney Ultrasound?
Your doctor may recommend a kidney ultrasound to:
- Evaluate unusual pain in the abdomen area with uncommon symptoms.
- Look for damage to blood vessels in the kidneys after an injury.
- Evaluate the shape and size of the kidneys, as well as blood flow through the kidneys.
- Check for swelling of the kidneys due to a build-up of urine (Hydronephrosis).
- Diagnose abnormal kidney function and acute or chronic kidney (renal) failure.
- Detect cysts, infection, tumors, fluid collection, and abscesses (a swollen area containing pus) within or around the kidneys.
- Detect kidney stones.
- Look for abnormalities present since birth.
- Assist in placement of needles used to drain fluid from an abscess or cyst, to obtain a tissue sample of the kidneys (biopsy), or to put a drainage tube in place.
- Assess blood vessels before planning kidney transplant surgery.
- Evaluate the transplanted kidney after a kidney transplant surgery.
Your doctor may also ask you to take the Abdomen MRI to confirm the diagnosis for abnormalities in the kidneys. Your doctor may also recommend a Kidney Function test to evaluate and monitor how your kidneys are functioning. Depending on the results, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis and plan your treatment.
How is a Kidney Ultrasound Performed?
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- Before starting the kidney ultrasound, you will have to take off your clothes till your upper abdomen area and lie face-up on an examination table.
- A sonographer will apply a warm water-based gel on your abdomen.
- The sonographer will then take a small hand-held camera (known as probe) attached to an ultrasound screen and place it over your abdomen.
- The sonographer will move the probe back and forth on your abdomen and a moving picture will appear on the ultrasound screen.
- The sonographer will give you instructions such as ‘stay still’ and ‘hold your breath for 5 to 8 seconds’ and will then take multiple screenshots of the moving images using the ultrasound machine. Make sure you don’t move during the scan as any movement can blur the images.
- Once the scan is complete, you will be asked to wipe off the clear ultrasound gel from your skin.
How Long Does a Kidney Ultrasound Take?
A kidney ultrasound scan is usually completed within 30 minutes.
Is Radiation Involved in a Kidney Ultrasound?
No. Unlike X-ray imaging, there is no ionizing radiation exposure associated with ultrasound imaging.
Are There Any Risks in Taking a Kidney Ultrasound?
Standard diagnostic ultrasound is a safe procedure that uses low-power sound waves. There are no known risks.
When Will I Receive My Results?
Once the kidney ultrasound is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How Should I Prepare for a Kidney Ultrasound?
Please refer to the simple preparation guidelines given below or consult with your doctor or radiology center where you are being treated. Do not forget to bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.