A kidney ultrasound is an imaging test that uses sound waves to look at your kidneys. It can check the size, shape, and location of your kidneys. It also lets your healthcare provider see how well blood is flowing in your kidneys.
The healthcare provider uses a device called a transducer to make the images of your kidneys. The transducer sends out sound waves that bounce off your kidneys. The sound waves are too high-pitched for you to hear. The transducer then picks up the bounced sound waves. These are made into pictures of your kidneys.
Your healthcare provider can add another device called a Doppler probe to the transducer. This probe lets your healthcare provider hear the sound waves the transducer sends out. He or she can hear how fast blood is flowing through a blood vessel and in which direction it is flowing. No sound or a faint sound may mean that you have a blockage in the flow.
Ultrasound is safe to have during pregnancy because it does not use radiation. It is also safe for people who are allergic to contrast dye because it does not use dye.
You may need a kidney ultrasound if your healthcare provider thinks you may have a problem in your kidneys. These problems include:
You may also have a kidney ultrasound to help:
Your provider may also use ultrasound after a kidney transplant to see how well the transplanted kidney is working.
Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to recommend a kidney ultrasound.
A kidney ultrasound has no risks of radiation. Most people have no discomfort from the transducer moving across the skin.
You may have risks depending on your specific health condition. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about any concerns you have before the procedure.
Certain things can make a kidney ultrasound less accurate. These include:
You may have a kidney ultrasound 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 ultrasound follows this process:
A kidney ultrasound is not painful. You may have some discomfort from having to remain still during the test. The gel will also feel cool and wet. The technologist will use all possible comfort measures and do the scan as quickly as possible to minimize any discomfort.
You don’t need any special care after a kidney ultrasound. You may go back to your usual diet and activities unless your healthcare provider tells 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: