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Kidney Scan

How It Feels

You may feel nothing at all from the needle puncture when the tracer is injected, or you may feel a brief sting or pinch as the needle goes through the skin. Otherwise, a kidney scan is usually painless. You may find it hard to remain still during the scan. Ask for a pillow or blanket to make yourself as comfortable as possible before the scan begins.

The test may be uncomfortable if you are having kidney pain. Try to relax by breathing slowly and deeply.

Risks

Allergic reactions to the radioactive tracer are rare. Most of the tracer will be eliminated from your body (through your urine or stool) within a day, so be sure to promptly flush the toilet and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. The amount of radiation is so small that it is not a risk for people to come in contact with you following the test.

Occasionally, some soreness or swelling may develop at the injection site. These symptoms can usually be relieved by applying moist, warm compresses to your arm.

There is always a slight risk of damage to cells or tissue from being exposed to any radiation, including the low level of radiation released by the radioactive tracer used for this test.

Results

A kidney scan is a nuclear scanning test that is done to check kidney camera.gif function or appearance. The results of a kidney scan are usually available in 2 days.

Kidney scan
Normal:

The radioactive tracer flows evenly to and through each kidney at the same time. The kidneys are working normally.

The tracer flows from the kidneys into the urine, which then drains into the ureters and bladder camera.gif. This process occurs within a normal time range.

The kidneys take up the radioactive tracer evenly. No "hot" spots or "cold" spots are seen.

Abnormal:

The kidneys are not normal in shape, size, or location.

The tracer does not flow evenly through the kidneys, meaning narrowing of, blockage of, or damage to the blood vessels or tissue in the kidneys. This may also mean poor kidney function.

The tracer collects in an area ("hot" spot) of a kidney. This might mean a tumor containing a higher-than-normal number of blood vessels.

An area of the kidney does not take up the tracer ("cold" spot). This may mean an abscess, cyst, or scarring.

The tracer does not pass from the kidneys into the urine and then through the ureters to the bladder. This can mean the movement of urine from the kidney is blocked.

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

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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