Everything You Need to Know About Renal Ultrasounds
A renal ultrasound is an ultrasound of the kidney. It can provide insight into your kidney health and clarify what the best treatment options are for your health journey. In this blog, we’ll explore renal ultrasounds in depth and answer frequently asked questions about the procedure.
What is a Renal Ultrasound?
While one of the most common uses of ultrasound is to observe fetal growth in pregnant women, they can also be used to identify problems with specific organs. A renal ultrasound, or kidney ultrasound, is a commonly used method to observe kidney function.
Renal ultrasounds are non-invasive, painless, easy, and unlike an X-Ray, an ultrasound uses no radiation, making it a completely safe procedure.
What Does a Renal Ultrasound Show?
A kidney ultrasound can show several useful things. If you’ve been having any health issues relating to your kidneys, an ultrasound might be ordered to reveal the following:
How is a Renal Ultrasound Done?
An ultrasound is a medical diagnostic technique that uses sound waves to take live images of organs and tissue inside your body. You can think of an ultrasound as an X-ray for your body’s soft tissues.
The ultrasound machine sends sound waves toward your kidneys; those sound waves are then recorded and translated into a visual feed, which is then displayed on a computer for analysis.
What Happens During the Renal Ultrasound Procedure?
The renal ultrasound procedure is very simple and safe. Before it begins, you may be asked to undress and change into a medical gown, as this will reduce the chance that any clothing or objects you have with you interfere with the ultrasound machine.
Next, you’ll lie on your stomach and your provider will apply a gel to your skin on the area around your kidneys. The sound waves that an ultrasound machine produces struggle to move directly through the air, so the gel acts as a conductor of the sound waves. The gel can sometimes leave your skin feeling oily, sticky, or dry, although these side effects are generally harmless.
Then, the provider will run the ultrasound transducer, which looks vaguely like a remote control, across your body. The transducer produces the soundwaves that then bounce off tissues—including your kidneys.
Finally, the reflection of soundwaves off your kidneys will be translated into a visual feed and displayed on a computer.
Renal Ultrasound Prep Tips
There’s typically very little you need to do to prep for a renal ultrasound. Furthermore, unlike other medical procedures that limit your food or drink intake ahead of time, most renal ultrasounds don’t require you to alter your diet or stop taking medication.
The main renal ultrasound prep tip is to ensure you drink enough water—typically around a quart—before the procedure. This helps ensure that you receive quality images of your kidneys and can also help assess your bladder’s volume.
Your nephrologist, physician, or ultrasound provider may have ultrasound prep tips specific to your health, so be sure to consult with them prior to your appointment.
Renal Ultrasound FAQs
A renal ultrasound is an incredible procedure. To address as much as we can about kidney ultrasounds, we’ve answered a few additional common questions here.
What’s the Difference Between a Renal Ultrasound and a Renal Sonogram?
As far as the average patient is concerned, there’s no difference between a renal ultrasound and a renal sonogram. Technically speaking, a kidney ultrasound refers to the entire ultrasound procedure—that is, using high-frequency soundwaves to create images of soft tissues.
A sonogram, however, only refers to the images produced by the ultrasound process. So, you have an ultrasound done, and you look at the sonogram.
How Long Does a Renal Ultrasound Take?
A renal ultrasound typically takes about half an hour but can be shorter or longer depending on the patient. However, ultrasounds are rarely lengthy procedures.
What Other Procedures Can Observe the Kidneys?
An ultrasound isn’t the only method of observing the kidneys. Other effective methods include:
Turn to Milwaukee Nephrologists for Specialized Kidney Care
If you have questions about your kidney health and think an ultrasound could provide answers, turn to Milwaukee Nephrologists, the Milwaukee area’s kidney specialists.
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. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Image source: Medical News Today
The Difference Between Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis
Kidney disease is a severe ailment that affects an estimated 37 million people in the United States, with millions more at risk. Kidney disease poses various health concerns and complications and, if left untreated, can be fatal. The most effective way to treat kidney failure is through dialysis.
There are two different types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. In this guide, we’ll explain who needs dialysis, the two types of dialysis, the differences between peritoneal dialysis vs. hemodialysis, and which dialysis type is right for you.
When Do You Need Dialysis?
To better understand the differences between hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, it's important to thoroughly understand what the kidneys do and why they are significant. Your kidneys are crucial to filtering waste and harmful substances out of the bloodstream. They absorb essential vitamins and nutrients, expelling everything else out of the body in the form of urine. The kidneys also regulate your body's hydration levels and assist in hormone production.
If your kidneys fail, they allow harmful elements into the bloodstream, leading to complications with the central nervous system, diabetes, heart problems, and more. You may also experience some common symptoms of kidney failure, such as nausea, vomiting, decreased urine output, fatigue, swelling from fluid retention, and more.
If your kidneys no longer remove enough waste and fluid from your blood to keep you healthy, your doctor may recommend dialysis treatments. Dialysis is the most effective way to treat kidney disease. It's a process that allows artificial regulation of hydration, hormone production, and waste filtration. Essentially, the process conducts the kidneys' duties. Treatment is administered on average for about four hours, three times per week. Frequency depends on the severity of the disease and the patient, and patients undergoing home hemodialysis treatments may opt for longer treatments on fewer days a week.
What Is Hemodialysis?
Hemodialysis is a process that cleans the blood via a machine called a dialyzer which works as an artificial kidney. Before starting treatments, your doctor will create an exit and entry point for the blood, which is usually done by arm surgery. The blood is drawn from the access point and through IV tubes that send it into the dialyzer, which filters out the waste and retains essential nutrients. It then begins pumping the newly cleaned blood back into the body.
This process is done either in a hospital, dialysis center, or, depending on the severity of the disease and the patient's personal situation, at home.
If the kidney disease is caught early enough, hemodialysis may not be needed in the long term. As long as the patient maintains a strict and healthy hemodialysis diet, as instructed by the doctor, the kidneys may heal over time and the patient will see restored functionality. However, if the disease has progressed to severe levels, hemodialysis will be administered for the rest of the patient's life or until they receive a kidney transplant.
What Is Peritoneal Dialysis?
Peritoneal dialysis shares the same basic treatment principles as hemodialysis but is performed differently. Instead of using a dialyzer to clean the blood, peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your abdomen as a filter. Treatments are done with a special cleansing fluid called dialysate that flows into your abdomen using a catheter. The catheter is usually inserted near the belly button and will require about a month to heal before starting treatments. Patients receiving peritoneal dialysis will require some education as they perform the treatments independently from their homes.
There are two types of peritoneal dialysis; Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) and Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD). With CAPD, the dialysate is administered via the catheter into the abdomen, left for several hours to clean the blood, and then later drained. The administration and draining process takes around 30 minutes and is done between 3-5 times daily. During this time, the patient can continue their day as usual.
APD is similar to CAPD, except treatments are done with a machine while the patient sleeps. The machine connects to the patient’s catheter, fills it with dialysate, lets the cleansing fluid sit for a while, and drains it into a sterile bag which can be emptied in the morning. APD treatments usually take 10 to 12 hours and don’t require patients to be connected to the machine at any other point during the day.
While receiving peritoneal dialysis, your doctor will likely recommend different tests to measure the treatment’s efficacy. These tests help determine if any changes are needed to your treatment routines, such as increasing the number of daily exchanges or the amount of dialysate used with each treatment.
Hemodialysis Vs. Peritoneal Dialysis: Which One Is Right for You?
Various factors play a role in which dialysis treatment you and your doctor decide is right for you. These factors often include your lifestyle, line of work, disease severity, and personal preferences. Your kidney specialist will explain the pros and cons of each type of dialysis to find what's best for you.
Here’s a general overview of the pros and cons of each dialysis type.
Advantages of Hemodialysis
Disadvantages of Hemodialysis
Advantages of Peritoneal Dialysis
Disadvantages of Peritoneal Dialysis
Dialysis Treatments in Milwaukee
The most significant advantage of both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis is that they help patients live healthier and longer lives. At Milwaukee Nephrologists, your health and quality of life are our first priority. Our board-certified physicians are experts in their field and will work with you to develop a treatment plan that addresses your needs and fits your lifestyle.
If you or a loved one suffer from or are at risk for kidney disease, we’re here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.