The Computed Tomography (CT) kidney scan is also known as CT scan or CAT scan and it is a noninvasive diagnostic procedure which uses X-rays to provide detailed images of any part inside the body, this time, the kidney. The CT scan, which is more detailed compared with the standard X-rays, shows accurate images of the bones, organs, fat and muscles.
There is also a special test, called Fluoroscopy CT, which is not widely available. During this test a steady X-ray beam is used to analyze the movement of a certain organ inside the body or to guide a biopsy needle or another medical instrument inside the body.
Before the procedure the patient has to inform the doctor about a current pregnancy, any allergies to medicine, heart conditions, diabetes, kidney problems, asthma, any medical device such as a pacemaker, any X-rays using barium contrast material in the past 4 days or claustrophobia, which is the fear of being in small spaces. It is of utmost importance and vital for the patient to tell the doctor about any of these conditions.
The CT scan of the bladder, ureters and kidneys is called a CT urogram or CT KUB, and is used to find bladder or kidney stones, or a blockage of the urinary tract. Another used procedure is the CT intravenous pyelogram or IVP, which use a contrast substance to find kidney stones, growths, blockage, infection, injuries, tumors, congenital anomalies or urinary tract diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease.
CT scans of the kidney are also performed after the kidney has been removed to see if abnormal masses have formed in the empty space or after kidney transplants to analyze the location and size of the new kidney.
The patient has to lie on a table, which is attached to the CAT scanner, and which will go inside a special designed scanner. The X-rays move in a circle on the body, providing several pictures, or slices, of an organ or area. The pictures are sent to a computer, where they are analyzed. Sometimes a contrast is used, which is a substance that is injected, taken by mouth or applied on a certain body part to highlight that area.
The patient has to lie still during the procedure, which takes only a few seconds, but the whole preparation before the scan can take between 30 to 60 minutes. A sedative might be given to relax the patients who become nervous in tight, small spaces.
Before the CT scan the doctor will explain the entire procedure and the patient will have to sign a consent form, only when contrast dye has to be used. Depending on the procedure the patient might be asked not to eat any solid foods beginning with the night before the CT scan, to drink contrast substance or to take a laxative before the test.
There also several risks related to this procedure, such as the amount of radiation during the procedure or allergies to the contrast dye, although studies show that 85% of the patients did not experience an adverse reaction to this substance. The accuracy of the CT scan might be distorted by several factors such as metallic objects, barium in the intestines from a barium test or other tests for which were used contrast dye or other substances.
The Computed Tomography Kidney Scan is performed by a radiology technology and the pictures are analyzed by a radiologist, who also writes a report. But, other doctors may also review the CT scan.
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