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Kidney Scan

How To Prepare

Before your kidney scan, tell your doctor if:

  • You are or might be pregnant.
  • You are breast-feeding. The radioactive tracer used in this test can get into your breast milk. Do not breast-feed your baby for 2 days after this test. During this time, you can give your baby breast milk you stored before the test, or you can give formula. Discard the breast milk you pump for 2 days after the test.
  • Within the past 4 days, you have had an X-ray test using barium contrast material (such as a barium enema) or have taken a medicine (such as Pepto-Bismol) that contains bismuth. Barium and bismuth can interfere with test results.
  • You have had an X-ray test using contrast material in the last 48 hours. X-ray tests with contrast material may include an intravenous pyelogram (IVP) or abdominal computed tomography (CT) scan.

You may be asked to drink 2 to 3 glasses of water right before the scan.

You may be asked to sign a consent form.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

A kidney scan is usually done by a nuclear medicine technologist. The scan pictures are usually interpreted by a radiologist or nuclear medicine specialist.

Before the test

You will need to remove any jewelry that might interfere with the scan. You may need to take off all or most of your clothes, depending on which area is being examined (you may be allowed to keep on your underwear if it does not interfere with the test). You will be given a cloth or paper covering to use during the test.

During the test

The technologist cleans the site on your arm where the radioactive tracer will be injected. A small amount of the radioactive tracer is then injected. Medicine to increase your urine output (a diuretic) may also be injected. You may lie on your back on a table, stand, or sit upright. A large scanning camera will be positioned closely above your belly

The camera will scan for radiation right after the radioactive tracer is injected. Scans may be taken every few minutes for about 30 minutes. More pictures may be taken 1 to 2 hours after the tracer was injected. The scans produce pictures as the tracer moves through your kidneys. You may also be given medicine to help the scans check for certain kidney functions.

A chart called a renogram may be made using the information from the kidney scan by plotting the movement of the tracer through the kidneys and recording it on a graph. A series of chart recordings is then made based on the amount of tracer uptake in the kidneys over a period of time. These recordings provide information about different phases of blood flow and kidney function.

A kidney scan usually takes about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

You need to remain very still during each scan to avoid blurring the pictures. The camera does not produce any radiation, so you are not exposed to any more radiation while the scan is being done.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 17, 2012
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.

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