Intravenous Pyelogram

1 What is an Intravenous Pyelogram?

An x-ray exam of your urinary tract is called intravenous pyelogram knew as excretory urogram.

This exam can let your doctor see your bladder, kidneys and the tubes that carry urine from your kidney to your bladder.

This can be used to diagnose disorders that affect urinary tracts such as bladder stones, kidney stones, kidney cysts, and urinary tract tumors or enlarged prostate.

Your doctor will inject into a vein in your arm the iodine contrast solution. The X-ray dye will follow your urinary tract to outline each of them. He will check them to see if they are working well.

2 Reasons for Procedure

Here are the most common reasons to receive an intravenous pyelogram.

To examine your ureters, kidneys and bladder your doctor will use intravenous pyelogram so he can see the shape and size of them and check if they are working well.

If you are experiencing signs and symptoms such as pain in your back or side or there is blood in your urine, he will suggest this exam.

An intravenous pyelogram is used to check the disorders of the urinary tract such as:

The previous use of this exam is for imaging test to evaluate possible urinary tract disorders but now they often use this because of the development of renal or kidney ultrasound and CT scans.

Intravenous pyelogram can still be useful for:

  • detecting kidney stones
  • identifying certain structural urinary tract disorders
  • providing information about urinary tract obstruction

3 Potential Risks

Along with undergoing an intravenous pyelogram  comes potential risks. This exam is safe and complications are very rare such as allergic reactions. 

In some cases, when the X-ray dye is injected it can carry side effects such as

  • a metallic taste in the mouth
  • a feeling of warmth or flushing
  • itching
  • nausea
  • hives

Severe reactions which are rare include:

  • cardiac arrest
  • extremely low blood pressure
  • and a sudden, full body allergic reaction which can cause breathing difficulties and other life-threatening symptoms (anaphylactic shock)

You will be exposed to low levels of radiation during this exam and this radiation is so small that the risk of any damage to cells in your body is extremely low.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant before undergoing this exam. He may consider waiting or using another imaging test though the risk of an unborn baby is small.

4 Preparing for your Procedure

To prepare for an intravenous pyelogram tell your doctor if:

  • you are pregnant or suspect that you might be pregnant
  • have any allergies especially to iodine
  • have had a previous severe reaction to X-ray dyes

Before the exam, your doctor may ask you to avoid eating and drinking for a certain amount of time. And also he may suggest the use of a laxative.

5 What to Expect

Here’s what you can expect before, during, and after your intravenous pyelogram.

Your doctor might talk to you before the exam to:

  • ask questions about your medical history
  • check your pulse, temperature and blood pressure
  • ask you to change into a hospital gown and remove jewelry or any metal objects that can obscure the X-ray images
  • place an IV line into your vein so he can inject the X-ray dye
  • ask you to urinate first to make sure that your bladder is empty

You will lie back on a table. The machine is usually part of the table or attached to it. The X-ray image intensifier will be placed over your abdomen.

X-rays will be taken of your urinary tract before injecting the dye then the dye will be injected through the IV line.

As the dye flows through your kidneys to the ureters and into your bladder, X-ray images will be taken at timed intervals. Your doctor may ask you to urinate again towards the end of the exam.

He will take X-ray images of your empty bladder. The IV line will be removed after the exam is complete and you can now return to your daily activities.

6 Procedure Results

The intravenous pyelogram results will be interpreted by a radiologist who specializes in reading X-rays and will send the report to your doctor.