Skip to content
    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Kidney Scan

    A kidney scan is a nuclear scanning test that is done to check kidney camera.gif function or appearance.

    During a scan to look at kidney function, a radioactive tracer substance is injected into a vein in the arm and then travels through the bloodstream to the kidneys. The tracer flows through the blood vessels in the kidneys camera.gif and then is excreted into the urine. A special camera (gamma) takes pictures of the tracer in the kidneys. This helps show cell activity and function in the kidneys.

    Many different kinds of kidney scans can be done. The types of kidney scans include a scan that looks at how blood flows to and through the kidneys, a scan that looks at the shape and size of the kidneys, and a scan that looks at how urine is made and flows out of the kidneys. Sometimes a doctor will do multiple scans at one time (for example, a triple renal study). Different radioactive tracers are used depending on what kind of scan is being done.

    Areas of the kidneys where the tracer shows up in higher-than-normal amounts, such as in some types of cancer, result in bright or "hot" spots in the pictures. Areas where the tracer does not show up appear as dark or "cold" spots. Cold spots can mean narrowing or blockage of the blood vessels, pockets of fluid (cysts), some cancers, scarring, or pockets of infection (abscesses).

    The amount of time it takes for the tracer to move through the kidney, collect in the urine, and drain into the bladder can also be seen in a kidney scan camera.gif. This may be done to see how well the kidneys are working.

    A kidney scan may be done instead of a kidney X-ray test called an intravenous pyelogram (IVP) for people who are allergic to the special dye (contrast material) used during the IVP.

    Why It Is Done

    A kidney scan is done to:

    • Check the blood flow through the kidneys. Abnormal flow may mean narrowed renal arteries that can cause a type of high blood pressure called renovascular hypertension.
    • See how a transplanted kidney is working.
    • Check the extent of kidney damage caused by an injury or infection.
    • Find an obstruction in the kidney or ureter camera.gif, such as from a kidney stone.
    • Find growths in the kidneys (rare).
    1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 09, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

    Hot Topics

    WebMD Video: Now Playing

    Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

    Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

    disciplining a boy
    Types, symptoms, causes.
    fruit drinks
    Eat these to think better.
    embarrassed woman
    Do you feel guilty after eating?
    diabetes supply kit
    Pack and prepare.
    Balding man in mirror
    Treatments & solutions.
    birth control pills
    Which kind is right for you?
    Remember your finger
    Are you getting more forgetful?
    sticky notes on face
    10 tips to clear your brain fog.
    Close up of eye
    12 reasons you're distracted.
    woman biting a big ice cube
    Habits that wreck your teeth.
    apple slices with peanut butter
    What goes best with workouts?
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    Myths and facts.

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    Women's Health Newsletter

    Find out what women really need.