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What is a renal ultrasound?

Renal ultrasound is a very safe, noninvasive imaging study used to look for cysts, tumors, or blockages of the kidney. It can also at times be used to evaluate blood flow to and from the kidney. Some of its main advantages are that it does not use radiation to gather images, does not require intravenous contrast, and is generally relatively inexpensive.

How is a renal ultrasound done?

Renal ultrasound is one of the most common types of imaging studies. Doppler technology is used to assess changes in blood flow to the kidneys which is one of the most common sources of hypertension (high blood pressure) and kidney damage. Renal cysts are also exceedingly common (50% of people over age 50) and can be evaluated with a renal ultrasound. Kidney stones and blockages may be able to be visualized. Kidney tumors can be diagnosed and potentially monitored with a renal ultrasound. Also kidney transplants can be monitored with renal ultrasound.

How do I prepare for a renal ultrasound?

There is no preparation required for the exam. Fasting may improve the quality of the images. A patient is usually asked to lie down and his or her shirt is pulled up to expose the back and abdomen. It is not necessary to undress. Ultrasound gel will be used and is water based. Although towels will be used to protect the patients clothing, the gel does not harm the clothing.