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Ultrasound of Kidneys

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Ultrasound of the kidneys is a non invasive diagnostic technique performed to check the size, shape, location and functioning of the kidney. It helps to determine underlying renal disorders. Apart from these, blood flow inside the kidneys can also be assessed with ultrasound technology.

When is ultrasound of kidneys recommended?

The main functions of the kidneys are excretion of urine and maintaining a stable electrolyte balance in the blood. Ultrasound is recommended by doctors to detect abnormal functioning of the kidneys.

Abnormalities in kidneys that can be diagnosed by ultrasound are:

  • Infection in kidneys
  • Formation of stones in kidneys
  • Presence of cysts, abscesses and tumours
  • Fluid retention inside kidneys
  • Evaluation of kidney transplants
  • Obstruction in the kidneys
  • Complications of UTI
  • Abnormalities since birth

 How is ultrasound of kidneys performed?

The technician will apply a warm gel on the abdomen, precisely over the kidney area. The gel aids in smooth movement of the transducer. It’s performed manually with the help of a hand-held probe known as the transducer. As the device is placed on your body, it emits ultrasound waves of very high frequency which moves through the skin, abdominal tissues and the kidneys. They reflect off from the body as sound waves, which are converted to electronic pictures by the computer device.

Another technique known as Doppler ultrasound is performed to evaluate the velocity and direction of blood flow inside the kidney. The movement of blood cells causes a fluctuation in pitch of the reflected sound waves, which are processed by the computer and represented as either pictures or graphs.

How to prepare for the procedure?

You doctor will fix an appointment for the kidney ultrasound.

You do not require fasting, bowel preparation or keeping your bladder either full or empty.

You will have to take off your jewellery, belt, wallet, or any other belongings that might interfere with the waves.

If needed, you may be asked to change your dress with a gown.

What happens during the procedure?

As said before, you will lie down over the table on your back and the gel will be applied.

It’s a painless and non invasive technique. So sedation is absolutely not required. You might feel pressure on your abdomen when the transducer moves. If you are undergoing Doppler ultrasound, then you can distinctly hear “whooshing” sound when the probe is used.

You have to remain still throughout the procedure. The technician visualizes the computer display simultaneously while moving the probe. The gel will be wiped off after the sonography is over.

What to expect after the procedure

It takes around 30 minutes to complete the procedure. You can resume normal activities that day itself. The reports will be delivered on the same day or within a day or two.

Your doctor will assess the reports and discuss it with you. A follow up with treatment plan will be started depending on the interpretations.

Are there any risks associated?

Ultrasound is not hazardous as it does not use radiation. It’s safe during pregnancy as well. However, certain gastrointestinal disorders like bloating and gas can interfere with the procedure. The technician will check your medical conditions and then proceed, so you are absolutely safe.

Ultrasound is an immensely useful as well as successful technique in confirming presence of  wide range of renal complications.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 27, 2015