An Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP), is a diagnostic procedure that uses a "contrast agent" and x-rays to obtain pictures of your urinary tract. Ordinarily, standard x-rays pass through the soft tissues of the body, such as your urinary tract making them difficult to see. However, when a special contrast agent is given intravenously, your urinary tract will show up clearly. The contrast agent is excreted through your urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra, making it possible to take x-ray images of these organs.

The Intravenous Pyelogram exam can detect problems within your urinary tract resulting from stones, enlarged prostate, injuries to the urinary tract, tumors, and other changes. This procedure helps your doctor identify these problems with minimal risk and discomfort to you.

What will the exam be like? 

A registered radiology technologist specializing in Intravenous Pyelograms will perform this x-ray examination of your urinary tract. The technologist works under the close supervision of a radiologist to assure the most accurate results from your examination.

For this procedure, you will change from clothing into a hospital gown. The technologist will gently position you on an x-ray examination table. A preliminary x-ray will be taken to make sure your abdomen is properly prepared for the procedure.

Next, the radiologist or a technologist will inject a special medication, called a contrast agent, into a vein in your arm. This medication may be injected from a syringe, or it may flow gradually into your vein through an intravenous hook-up.

During the injection, you may feel warm and become flushed. Some patients also notice a slightly metallic taste in their mouths. These are normal reactions to the contrast agent, and they will only last a minute or so. Let the technologist know immediately if you begin to itch, feel any shortness of breath or are otherwise uncomfortable in any way.

After the contrast agent has begun to work its way through your system, you may be asked to turn from side to side and hold several different positions as the x-rays are taken. You will be asked to hold your breath, and some pressure may be applied to your abdomen.

Toward the end of the examination, you may also be asked to empty your bladder so that a post-voiding x-ray can be taken. All the x-rays are reviewed to make sure they contain all the necessary information. If more x-rays are needed, they will be taken at this time.

How do I prepare for the exam?

Preparation usually begins a day or two before the examination. Your doctor will provide you with specific dietary instructions, depending on your special circumstances. Generally, patients are asked to drink large quantities of water and follow a low-residue diet.

The day before the exam you may be asked to drink only clear liquids. You may also be asked to refrain from drinking or eating anything after your evening meal on the night before the exam.

Your doctor may also request that you take a laxative or suppository to help clear your lower digestive tract before the exam. You may be given an enema on the morning of the exam to make sure your bowel is completely clean.

Be sure to provide the technologist with your complete medical history, including medication you are currently taking, allergies you might have and previous reactions to medication or contrast agents.

How long will the exam last?

The examination itself usually takes about an hour. Your doctor will advise you of the amount of time needed for your particular exam.

What happens after the exam?

After the exam, you will be free to return to normal activities and your usual diet, unless told otherwise by your doctor. The contrast agent will be eliminated through your urine, and will not normally discolor the urine or stool.

How will I learn the results?

The specialized body imaging radiologist, will study the examination and consult with your doctor, who will advise you of the results.

What should I keep in mind when having an Intravenous Pyelogram?

Tell your doctor or technologist, if you are:

  • Currently on Glucophage
  • Pregnant or think you may be
  • Allergic to iodine or other materials
  • Undergoing radiation therapy

You should also:

  • Wear comfortable clothing
  • Avoid wearing jewelry - metallics may interfere with the accuracy of the film image

Be sure to ask your physician or technologist any questions relating to your examination. These questions will help the physician evaluate your particular situation.

Schedule an Appointment

To schedule an appointment, please call 888.364.6400.

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