What is a kidney ultrasound?

A kidney ultrasound (renal ultrasound) is an imaging test that allows your healthcare provider to look at your right and left kidney, as well as your bladder. The kidneys are the filtration system of your body. They filter the waste products out of your blood. The waste products then leave your body as urine.

Your healthcare provider may also need a “post void” done with this exam. This requires you to come to the test with a full bladder so that the provider can get a volume of your bladder before and after you empty it.

What is an ultrasound?

Ultrasound is an imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves to see inside your body. This diagnostic test sends these sound waves — inaudible to the human ear — through your body tissues. The echoes are recorded and transformed into video or photographic images of the internal structures of the body. You might also hear this test call sonography or ultrasonography. Many people associate this test with pregnancy because it’s often used to look at a baby while it’s developing within the mother’s uterus. However, an ultrasound can be used for many reasons and it’s a useful diagnostic tool.

Painless, an ultrasound is usually done on top of your skin (non-invasive). Ultrasound images help in the diagnosis of a wide range of disease and conditions. Some organs that can be seen on an ultrasound include the:

  • Gallbladder.
  • Liver.
  • Heart.
  • Kidney.
  • Female reproductive organs (including an unborn baby).

Ultrasound can also detect blockages in your blood vessels.

Your healthcare provider might use an ultrasound by itself or with other diagnostic tools. Studies have shown that it’s not hazardous to get an ultrasound. There are no harmful side effects. Also, unlike X-ray tests, ultrasound doesn’t use radiation.

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