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Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP)

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What is an Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP)?

An intravenous pyelogram is a series of x-rays of the urinary system, the kidneys, bladder and urinary tract using contrast medium. A normal x-ray does not show the internal structure and the working of the kidneys. With the help of the dye, it is easier to assess the functioning and the precise location of obstruction, if any. It is also known as intravenous urogram.

Why is it conducted?

Today there are other methods, such as, CT scans and MRIs, for visualizing the urinary system. However, the IVP is still used in certain situations like structural disorders of the urinary tract and for the location of any obstruction or stones in the tract.

Who should go for it?

  • Persons who have blood in urine are advised this test to find out the cause.
  • Persons who have been injured in the abdomen area are advised this test to assess internal damage.
  • People who have severe or ongoing pain at the back just below the ribs where the kidneys are located.
  • Persons who are suspected to have tumors or stones in the kidney or urinary tract.
  • People who are suffering from recurrent urinary infections to check for possible reasons.
  • Persons who are suspected to have defects in the structure of the urinary tract.


You will be asked to empty the bladder just before the test begins. In this test the radiologist injects a dye in a vein in the arm. This is then followed by a number of x-rays at certain intervals. This not only highlights the internal structure but also reveals how well the kidneys are able to filter the dye from the system. You will be expected to stay motionless during the procedure so that the x-rays do not get blurred. Generally a wide compression belt is used around the abdomen to ensure that the dye remains in the kidneys for some time. However, this belt will not be used if obstruction is suspected. A last x-ray is taken after you have emptied the bladder again at the end of the procedure. It should take about 1 hour for the test to be completed.


You will be asked not to eat or drink anything from 12 hours before the test. In addition to this, a laxative will be given the day before so that the bowels are empty. You will have to remove all jewelry or metal objects from your body.

It is normal for the person to have a feeling of warmth or flushing spread from the vein where the dye is injected. This feeling disappears after sometime. Serious reaction to the dye is rare.

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An intravenous pyelogram is not carried out under certain conditions. These are:

  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may not have this test.
  • Women who have an IUD for contraception.
  • This test will not be conducted on persons who have had a barium x-ray even 4 days before.
  • Persons whose kidneys are compromised as the dye may cause further damage to kidneys.
  • People who have diabetes and have metformin for its management.
  • Persons who are allergic to the dye which is iodine based.

In these cases an ultrasound, CT or retrograde pyelogram is preferred.

Interpretation of results 

The x-rays are interpreted by the radiologist who looks for shape, size, and position of the kidneys, bladder and the urinary tract as well as signs of obstruction or any abnormal growth. The time taken for the dye to reach the kidneys is also observed.

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Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: February 03, 2015

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