Renal (kidney & bladder) ultrasound scan


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renal ultrasound scans kidney scan slices

Renal ultrasound scan

Abdominal or back pain is the most common indication for a renal ultrasound scan.

Your kidneys are responsible for removing toxins from your body. They also balance electrolytes in the body and provide hormones necessary to regulate blood pressure and red blood cell production.

Some reasons for having renal scan are:

  • Recurrent urinary infection: to show renal size, scarring, collecting system dilatation, residual bladder volume.
  • Haematuria: blood in the urine can be due to renal parenchymal disease.
  • Renal masses: to assess for solid versus cystic masses and collecting system dilatation.
  • Renal colic: pain in the back, below the ribs or in the lower abdomen.
  • Most commonly, renal scans are useful for demonstrating the size and position of the kidneys and are helpful in identifying obstruction of the kidney and renal stones.
  • Making sure that your bladder and kidneys are working to the best of their ability is essential.

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The renal ultrasound scan

The scan takes up to 20 minutes and we will usually ask you to drink 1 – 2 pints of water an hour prior to the scan so we can see your bladder better.

You will be asked to lie down on the ultrasound examination couch. A clear, water-based gel is applied to the skin over the abdomen and a transducer, which is a hand-held probe, is then simply moved over the sides of the abdomen. The procedure is non-invasive and painless. There is no risk of radiation with this scan, ultrasound has no known harmful effects.

Your kidneys and bladder will be assessed and we may also assess your bladder again after passing urine so we will ask you to visit the toilet during your appointment. We scan the bladder because some conditions prevent the bladder from emptying properly which can lead to recurrent infections due to retained urine.

renal ultrasound scans

Renal ultrasound scan results

There are numerous conditions that can be detected during the renal scan.

The meaning of abnormal results depends on the organ and the type of problem found. We will explain everything that we see on scan and give you a clinical report of our findings and we can send them to your doctor or healthcare provider.

Your GP is usually the best person to speak with you should you need any follow-up care or treatment. They can put your ultrasound findings together with your full medical history and refer you to a specialist if needed.

For information on renal conditions, you can visit the external links below:

Kidney stones

Kidney infection

Urinary infection

Kidney disease

Kidney health


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