February 29, 2024Read More
If you’ve noticed a hint of pink in your urine, it’s time to speak with your doctor. You’ll also want to make an appointment if you’ve been experiencing increasing lower back pain, especially coupled with nausea and a high fever. In both cases, your doctor may refer you for a kidney ultrasound.
If you’ve got an appointment for a kidney ultrasound, you may have questions about the procedure or feel apprehensive about the results. This article breaks down the information you need to be ready for your appointment and will help you better understand your scan results, including:
A kidney ultrasound is a safe, non-invasive imaging test that examines the structures of the kidney to diagnose kidney-related conditions. During your appointment, an ultrasound technician will pass a hand-held device called a transducer over a small area of your body, allowing high-frequency sound waves to travel painlessly to your kidneys. An ultrasound machine then detects the sound waves and uses them to create flat, 2D images of your kidneys and other soft-tissue areas nearby.
Both kidney and renal ultrasounds capture the structure of the kidneys, but a renal ultrasound explores further. Renal ultrasounds also capture the soft-tissue structures of the bladder and ureters (long tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder).
A kidney ultrasound is a valuable imaging tool for assessing various kidney conditions or irregularities, including those that may impact other organs.
A kidney ultrasound may show:
Kidney ultrasounds can also be used to determine the placement of needles used in a kidney biopsy or to drain fluid from a cyst. Ultrasounds may also be useful when placing a drainage tube or tracking larger kidney stones.
Although kidney ultrasounds can give your doctor vital information, they have limitations. A kidney ultrasound cannot always determine whether a mass is benign or cancerous. Further testing, like a CT scan, may be required.
During your kidney ultrasound appointment, the attending ultrasound technician will ask you to lay face up on an exam table and expose your abdomen area. A kidney ultrasound is an external ultrasound so the technician will apply a gel to your skin before using the transducer. They will then move the device through the gel over the area of concern, pausing every few seconds to capture images.
The technician may ask you to reposition yourself on your side to allow for clearer images, but the entire procedure usually takes no longer than half an hour. In some cases, your doctor may request that the ultrasound explore a blockage between your kidneys and bladder. In this case, you’ll be asked to begin the ultrasound with a full bladder but to take a quick moment to visit the washroom to empty your bladder before continuing.
A kidney ultrasound is a quick and painless procedure, but there are some things you can do to prepare for your appointment ahead of time, such as:
Keep in mind that your ultrasound technician is not able to answer any questions about what they see during your ultrasound and they cannot give you medical guidance. But during your appointment is a good time to ask the technician other questions you may have, like:
In Canada and the U.S., it’s illegal for your ultrasound technician to discuss what they see during imaging or your results. This means you’ll have to wait for your follow-up appointment with your referring physician before you can gain a medical opinion about your kidney ultrasound.
During your follow-up appointment, you can ask your doctor any questions you have about your kidney ultrasound results, including,
If you have your own copy of your kidney ultrasound images and report, you’ll be able to review what your doctor describes and request confirmation about what you can see.
Waiting for your follow-up appointment to discuss your kidney ultrasound results can be nerve-wracking, but you may not have to wait as long as you think. With PocketHealth you can quickly and easily access your images and results as soon as the radiologist finishes their report, often before your follow-up appointment. You can also securely store and share your results directly from your device, making it easy to get a second opinion. Access your records here.
Medical reports aren’t light reading. You will likely encounter complex medical terminology in your report, but PocketHealth Report Reader can help. Report Reader provides definitions for the medical terms in your report, making it easier to comprehend your results, and spotlights any follow-up recommendations so you can feel informed and confident when speaking to your doctor at your next appointment.
If your doctor refers you for a kidney ultrasound, you now understand the procedure and your results, including what a kidney ultrasound can detect, what questions to ask during and after your appointment and how you can access your results.
Accessing and reviewing your kidney ultrasound results through PocketHealth before your follow-up appointment can help you prepare questions and feel confident discussing the results with your physician. Understanding the terminology and results outlined in your report using PocketHealth Report Reader allows you to become an informed participant, rather than a passenger, in your healthcare journey.