Picture this: Your doctor has told you that you must have an intravenous pyelogram of your urinary tract and kidneys. You feel some fear and dread over the test procedure. Your imagination runs wild envisioning painful injections and serious side effects.
We’re here to tell you to just relax! This test performed in hospitals or a doctor’s office is safe. There may be some mild discomfort, but it is a common procedure performed every day.
An intravenous pyelogram is an X-ray of your urinary tract and kidneys. It is performed on men and women to diagnose kidney stones, bladder stones, enlarged prostate, kidney cysts, urinary tract tumors, kidney disorders, causes of blood in urine, and cancer. During an IVP, contrast material or dye is injected into an intravenous line in your arm. The dye collects near your uniary tract and kidneys so that the radiologist can read the X-ray pictures more clearly.
Sometimes an ultrasound and tomography are used with the IVP for more detailed pictures. A CT scan is often used with IVP to find out why a person has blood in their urine. X-ray machines are often connected to a computer or screen to display images or videos.
Preparing For an IVP
You will be told not to eat or drink anything for twelve to fourteen hours before the test. The doctor may prescribe a mild laxative too. Be sure to tell the radiologist about any medications, chronic illnesses, or medical tests you recently have had. Tell them if you are pregnant, have allergies or kidney disease before having the test. Safety precautions are needed for some patients.
What to Expect During the Test
Before the test you will be asked to remove your jewelry and clothing. You will be given a gown to wear or covering to use during the test. Patients are asked to urinate before the test begins to empty the bladder. They will draw blood and insert an intravenous line into your arm through which the contrast dye will be injected later.
First, you will lie on the X-ray table and the radiologist will position the machine over the urinary tract and kidneys. Sometimes you have to wear a compression device for the test to hold the dye in the kidneys. They will take a photo of the urinary tract and kidney before injecting the dye. Afterwards, the dye is injected into the IV line. Several images are taken at different times five to 20 minutes apart. This gives the dye the time to flow into the urinary tract and kidneys.
The dye is often injected a few times. It causes a heated flush in the body and a metallic taste in the mouth, or nausea. The effects last a few minutes. Most exams last 30 minutes to an hour. During the exam you may have to change positions as the radiologist takes X-rays. At the end you may be asked to urinate again. You will be X-rayed at the end of the intravenous pyelogram to look at your empty bladder. They’ll be checking to see how much dye is still left in the body.
What Happens After the Test?
After the test, you can go home and resume normal activities. The doctor will tell you to drink fluids to flush the dye out your system after the test. The radiologist will study the pictures taken and send them to your primary care doctor or the specialist that requested it. Results often take a week to get.
The test results are examined for what is causing blood in the urine, like tumors on the kidneys and urinary tract, kidney stones and blockages, and infections of the urinary tract or kidneys. Sometimes they look for causes of severe lower back pain. Radiologists also look for enlarged prostate, scarring, and other abnormalities of the urinary tract and kidneys.
Once the test results are in you will be sent to the urologist, specialist, or surgeon to find the best treatment for your conditions. In rare cases you may be admitted to the hospital for serious kidney stones or blockages that need immediate treatment.
As for just the IVP, don’t worry about a thing! They are common and safe procedures. For any other imaging needs you may have, feel free to reach out to us for help or even just to answer a few questions.