Urinalysis: A routine test of the urine by a machine and often by a person looking through a microscope. Urinalysis can help detect infections, inflammation, microscopic bleeding, and kidney damage.
Kidney ultrasound: A probe placed on the skin reflects sound waves off the kidneys, creating images on a screen. Ultrasound can reveal blockages in urine flow, stones, cysts, or suspicious masses in the kidneys.
Computed tomography (CT scan): A CT scanner takes a series of X-rays and a computer creates detailed images of the kidneys.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan): A scanner uses radio waves in a magnetic field to make high-resolution images of the kidneys.
Urine and blood cultures: If an infection is suspected, cultures of the blood and urine may identify the bacteria responsible. This can help target antibiotic therapy.
Ureteroscopy: An endoscope (flexible tube with a camera on its end) is passed through the urethra into the bladder and ureters. Ureteroscopy generally cannot reach the kidneys themselves, but can help treat conditions that also affect the ureters.
Kidney biopsy: Using a needle inserted into the back, a small piece of kidney tissue is removed. Examining the kidney tissue under a microscope may help diagnose a kidney problem.