A kidney scan is an imaging test that looks at your kidneys. Your healthcare provider can also see how well blood is flowing in your kidneys.
A kidney scan is a type of nuclear imaging test. This means that a tiny amount of a radioactive matter is used during the scan. The radioactive matter (radioactive tracer) is absorbed by normal kidney tissue. The radioactive tracer sends out gamma rays. These are picked up by the scanner to make a picture of your kidneys.
The areas of the kidneys where the radioactive tracer collects in greater amounts are called "hot spots." The areas that do not absorb the tracer and appear less bright on the scan image are referred to as "cold spots."
A kidney scan can be done in several different ways to help look at kidney problems. All of these scans use a radioactive tracer.
You may need a kidney scan if your healthcare provider thinks you may have abnormal kidney function or may need surgery for a kidney problem.
Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to recommend a kidney scan.
The risk from the radioactive tracer is very low. The amount used in the test is very small. You may feel some slight discomfort when the tracer is injected. Allergic reactions to the tracer are rare, but they may happen.
Lying on the scanning table during the procedure may cause some discomfort or pain for certain people.
Tell your healthcare provider if you:
You may have other risks that are unique to you. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.
Certain things may make a kidney scan less accurate. These include:
You may have a kidney scan as an outpatient or as part of your stay in a hospital. The way the test is done may vary depending on your condition and your healthcare provider's practices.
Generally, a kidney scan follows this process:
The kidney scan is not painful. But you may have some discomfort or pain from lying still during the test, or the insertion of the IV. The technologist will use all possible comfort measures and do the scan as quickly as possible to minimize any discomfort or pain.
You should move slowly when getting up from the scanner table to avoid any dizziness or lightheadedness.
You may be told to drink plenty of fluids and empty your bladder often for about 24 hours after the scan. This will help flush the radioactive tracer from your body.
The medical staff will check the IV site for any signs of redness or swelling. Tell your healthcare provider if you see any pain, redness, or swelling at the IV site after you go home. These may be signs of infection or another type of reaction.
You may go back to your usual diet and activities, unless your healthcare provider tell you otherwise.
Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions, depending on your situation.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know: