The kidney ultrasound is the most commonly used and recommended exam procedure for diagnosing kidney disease. The ultrasound produces images used to evaluate the kidneys' (and related structures) shape, size, and location, as well as assesses the blood flow to the kidneys (Doppler ultrasound).
Also known as the renal ultrasound, it is a fast, pain-free, and non-invasive procedure that can be repeated to monitor the evolution of diseases. The image can be examined during and after the test was performed. Besides highlighting anatomical details (kidney position, renal ptosis, size), it can also identify hyperechoic formations or calcifications in the pyelocaliceal system.
The Doppler ultrasound (duplex study) is another type of kidney ultrasound that is indicated when there is suspicion of arterial or renal vein thrombosis. The exam highlights kidney tumors, renal artery and urethras and is used to determine the blood flow direction and speed within the kidneys. Unlike a standard ultrasound, certain sound waves during the Doppler procedure are audible.
As no contrast dyes or radiation are used, kidney ultrasounds can be safely undergone by pregnant women or in the presence of allergies to contrast dye.
Renal ultrasound can help evaluating several aspects and/or issues, assisting certain procedures, or diagnosing various conditions:
Types of Kidney Ultrasounds
Kidney Diseases Causes
The most common causes of kidney diseases, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the casuistry are diabetes and hypertension. Other causes of kidney conditions are:
Kidney Diseases Symptoms
At the beginning, the symptoms are nonspecific: fatigue, decreased ability to concentrate, sleep disturbances, nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, pallor and itchy skin, muscle cramps at night, swelling of the legs and the face (visible in the morning upon waking up).
Other symptoms related to kidney conditions are pain in the lumbar region (which may radiate to the bladder and genitals), changes in the amount or color of urine, urinating more frequent or infrequent than usual, frequent urination, especially at night.
How Is The Kidney Ultrasound Performed?
The procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of the patient's stay in a hospital. The patient is asked to remove any clothing, jewelry, or other objects that can interfere with the scan. If asked to remove clothing, the patient will be given a gown to wear. In most cases, patients have to lie still on their stomach, on a flat surface (a bed, an examination table).
Before beginning the procedure, the doctor applies a gel on the area that will be examined. The gel facilitates contact between the transducer and the skin or the mucous membranes. This gel allows for even movement of the transducer over the patient's skin and removes the air between the transducer and the skin for conducting the sound flawlessly
The kidney ultrasound is carried out using a transducer that is passing over the investigated area. The transducer sends ultrasounds that reflect different tissues to a computer. The transducer sends out ultrasound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. The ultrasound waves bounce off the kidneys, returning to the transducer. The reflected waves are processed by the transducer and converted by the computer into an image of the kidneys and related structures. The images will be digitally stored.
Benefits of Kidney Ultrasound
Cost of Kidney Ultrasound
The cost of the kidney ultrasound procedure varies throughout the world. In the US, the price of the test performed in stand-alone ultrasound facilities (not associated with clinics or hospitals), varies between $99 and $300. The price for the ultrasound performed at a clinic or hospital varies from $200 to $1,000. In countries such as Mexico, India, Thailand, Turkey, or the Philippines can get up to 50% lower than in the US, Canada, or the UK.
Finding Doctors for the Kidney Ultrasound
The kidney ultrasound is usually performed by a renal specialist with competence in ultrasound. This way, patients will receive direct and proper treatment of the detected disease.
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