What is Renal Artery Ultrasound?
A renal artery ultrasound is a safe and painless radiology exam. It is performed to examine the blood vessels (arteries) that supply blood to your kidneys in a non-invasive manner.
This scan is also known as Renal Artery Doppler Ultrasound and Ultrasound of the Renal Artery. In this scan, high-frequency sound waves are used to measure the speed of blood flow in and out of the kidneys and take multiple images of the kidney blood vessels (renal arteries).
Doctors use the renal artery ultrasound as a screening test for diagnosis and treatment of renovascular diseases such as renal artery stenosis (narrowing of the artery to one or both kidneys). This is a quick and relatively inexpensive scan which helps doctors in detecting blockages or narrowing of the renal arteries.
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Who Should Get a Renal Artery Ultrasound?
Your doctor may recommend an ultrasound of the renal artery if you have one or more of the following ailments or symptoms:
- High blood pressure that’s difficult to control despite medication (Hypertension)
- Previous kidney problems
- Early signs of kidney failure
- Abnormal sound (bruit) in the renal arteries detected by a doctor using a stethoscope
What is the Purpose of a Renal Artery Ultrasound?
Your doctor may recommend a renal artery ultrasound to:
- Look for blockages or narrowing of the renal arteries that increases the risk of renal artery stenosis, high blood pressure, and kidney failure.
- Evaluate abnormal sound (abdominal bruit) in the renal arteries detected using a stethoscope.
- Evaluate blood flow of renal arteries in patients who have known disorders that may compromise blood flow to the kidneys.
- Evaluate the function of kidneys in patients who are at risk of kidney diseases.
- Detect and evaluate suspected abnormalities in the renal arteries such as swelling or inflammation (aneurysm) and an abnormal connection between a blood vessel and a vein (arteriovenous fistula).
- Look for abnormalities present since birth that may disturb blood flow to the kidneys.
- Monitor existing renal artery disease or check the function of renal arteries after renal surgery.
Your doctor may also ask you to take the 24-Hour Holter Monitor to detect abnormal heartbeats and prevent your risk of heart attack or stroke. Your doctor may also recommend a Cholesterol Test (Lipid Panel) to measure total cholesterol being carried in your blood. Depending on the results, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis and plan your treatment.
How is a Renal Artery Ultrasound Performed?
- Before starting the renal artery 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 over the area of the renal arteries.
- Once the blood flow is detected, you will hear a “whoosh, whoosh” sound, and a moving picture will appear on the ultrasound screen.
- The sonographer 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 Renal Artery Ultrasound Take?
A renal artery ultrasound scan is usually completed within 45-60 minutes.
Is Radiation Involved in a Renal Artery Ultrasound?
No. Unlike X-ray imaging, there is no ionizing radiation exposure associated with ultrasound imaging.
Are There Any Risks in Taking a Renal Artery 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 renal artery ultrasound is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How Should I Prepare for a Renal Artery 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.