CT Urogram

1 What is a Computerized Tomography (CT) Urogram?

A computerized tomography (CT) urogram is an imaging exam that is applied in the evaluation of your urinary tract, including your kidneys, bladder and the tubes (ureters) that are responsible for carrying urine from your kidneys to your bladder.

CT urography uses X-rays to generate multiple images of a slice of the area in your body that is being studied, including bones, soft tissues, and blood vessels.

These images are then sent to a computer and quickly reconstructed into very detailed, 2-D images.

During a CT urogram, an X-ray dye (iodine contrast solution) is injected into a vein in your arm. The dye then flows to the parts of your urinary tract, outlining all of its structures.

X-ray pictures are taken at specific times during your exam, so your doctor can clearly see your urinary tract and make an assessment of how well it is working or look for abnormalities.

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2 Reasons for Procedure

The main reason for a computerized tomography (CT) Urogram is to do an examination of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder.

It allows your doctor see the size and shape of these structures in order to determine if they are working normally and to look for signs of the disease that may affect your urinary system.

Your doctor may recommend a CT urogram if you are experiencing signs and symptoms, such as pain in your side or back or blood in your urine (hematuria), that may be related to a urinary tract disorder.

A CT urogram may be used to help diagnose certain conditions that affect the urinary tract, such as:

3 Potential Risks

With a computerized tomography (CT) urogram, there is a small risk of an allergic reaction if the contrast material is injected. Reactions are generally mild and easily managed by medication.

They include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Pain at the site of the injection
  • A feeling of warmth and flushing

A single CT urogram carries no risk of developing secondary malignancy, but multiple tests and radiation exposure may cause a slight increase in the risk of cancer compared with the general population. However, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs this risk.

If you are pregnant or think you might be, it is very important to tell your doctor before having the CT urogram. Though the risk to the unborn baby is quite small, your doctor may consider whether it is better to wait or to use another imaging test.

4 Preparing for your Procedure

To prepare for a computerized tomography (CT) urogram, tell your doctor the following information:

  • If you have allergies, particularly to iodine.
  • If you are pregnant or if you think you might be.
  • If you have a previous severe reaction to X-ray dyes.
  • If you are taking any medications, such as metformin (Fortamet, Glucophage, Glumetza), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), ant-rejection drugs or antibiotics.
  • If you have had a recent illness.
  • If you have a medical condition, including heart disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease or a prior organ transplantation.

To expand (distend) your bladder, you may be asked to drink water for a CT urogram and not urinate until the procedure has been completed. However, depending on your condition, guidelines about eating and drinking before a CT urogram may vary.

5 What to Expect

Read on to learn more about what to expect before, during, and after your computerized tomography (CT) urogram.

Before your CT urogram, a member of your health care team will do the following:

  • Ask questions about your medical history.
  • Check your blood pressure, pulse and body temperature.
  • Ask you to change into a hospital gown and remove jewelry, eyeglasses and any objects that can interfere with the production of clear X-ray images.

During a CT urogram

For a CT urogram, you usually lie on your back on a table, though you may be asked to lie on your side or stomach as well. Straps and pillows may be used to help you maintain the desired position and keep you still during the exam. You may be asked to change positions during the CT urogram.

An IV line will be placed into a vein in your arm or hand through which the X-ray dye will be injected, and a metallic taste may appear in your mouth for a minute or two. The contrast material may briefly give you the urge to urinate.

Before your exam actually begins, the table will move quickly through the scanner to determine the correct starting position for your scans. For your actual CT urogram, the table will then slowly move through the machine while the images are taken.

If needed, the machine may make several passes. You will hear a slight buzzing and click sound as the machine takes pictures. In order to keep the images from blurring, you will be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds during the scanning.

After a CT urogram is complete, you will be asked to wait while the technologist makes sure the images are good enough quality for an accurate evaluation.

After a CT urogram

When your CT urogram is complete, the IV line is removed from your arm and the IV entry point is covered with a dressing. You can then return to your usual activities.

6 Procedure Results

A radiologist, who is a doctor who specializes in reading X-rays, will review and make an interpretation of the X-ray results from your computerized tomography (CT) urogram and send a report to your doctor.

Make plans to discuss the results with your doctor at a follow-up appointment.