Everything You Need to Know About Renal Ultrasounds
What is a Renal Ultrasound?
An ultrasound is a medical diagnostic technique that uses soundwaves to take live images of organs and tissue inside of your body. It is non-invasive (meaning there's no incision), painless, easy, and -- unlike an X-Ray -- it uses no radiation whatsoever, making it completely safe. While one of the most common uses of ultrasound is to observe fetal growth in pregnant women, they can be used to identify problems with specific organs as well. A renal ultrasound, or kidney ultrasound, is simply an easy, non-invasive method to observe kidney function.
Why Do You Need a Kidney Ultrasound?
In the past, we covered why the kidneys are so important and what they do, but the gist of it is: the kidneys are the body's main filtration system, removing waste, impurities and excess water from the body via urine. They also have a role in hormone production and regulate your body's hydration. Suffice it to say, if a kidney fails, it can be catastrophic to your body. Unnecessary nutrients and other waste is not being filtered out of your bloodstream and will inevitably cause other illnesses and complications. Untreated kidney failure will always result in death.
A kidney ultrasound happens when a patient is having health problems consistent with kidney or bladder diseases. In addition to blood and urine tests, a nephrologist (fancy word for kidney doctor) will conduct an ultrasound to determine:
How a Renal Ultrasound Works and What to Expect
How to Prepare For a Renal Ultrasound
Generally speaking, there isn't any prep work to be done before a renal ultrasound. Depending on the situation, you may be asked not to eat anything for a few hours before the procedure. If bladder problems are also at play, your doctor may also request that you show up to the procedure with a full bladder. However, any specific preparatory measures will be discussed in detail with your doctor well in advance of the procedure.
The renal ultrasound procedure is quite simple. You will be asked to strip down and into a hospital gown. A technician that specializes in ultrasounds, called a sonographer, will then have you lie down on a table and spread a clear gel on your abdomen over the kidneys. This gel helps facilitate sound wave transmission in order to get a clearer picture. The sonographer then moves a handheld gadget called a transducer back and forth on the abdomen. This device emits high-frequency soundwaves into the body, measuring how they bounce back and converting that data into imagery, which can be seen on a screen in the room.
A renal ultrasound doesn't take very long -- maybe 20-30 minutes. During this time you may be asked to perform various breathing exercises, lay in different positions, or even to urinate (in the bathroom, of course) so they can take imagery of your bladder before and after it's full. Once this is finished, you can clean off the excess gel, change back into your clothes and go home. The sonographer will then report findings to your doctor and they will analyze the results.
Got Questions? We Have Answers.
Milwaukee Nephrologists is a network of experts and doctors that are board-certified in Nephrology and have chosen a focus that provides a wide array of sub-specialization. If you or a loved one are in southeast Wisconsin and suffer from kidney disease, we're here to help. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation.