Renal Scans | Scintigraphy

Patients who have kidney issues or a change in kidney function may get a renal scan.

Kidney scans let your doctor get a better look at your kidneys and how they function.

 What are renal scans?

Renal scans are imaging tests that provide views of kidney function and appearance. With renal scans, radioactive dye is injected into the arm. The dye travels to the kidneys to provide a better view of them.

The renal scans can show any problems or abnormalities in the kidneys. They can show how well the kidneys filter blood. A renal scan also is known as a scintigraphy.

Who gets renal scans?

Renal scans are done to evaluate people with:

  • Kidney injury or infections

  • Kidney stones or other blockages

  • Possible abnormal blood flow

  • Newly transplanted kidney

What do renal scans show?

  • High blood pressure in the renal arteries

  • Tumors or cysts

  • Abscesses

  • Kidney disease

  • Kidney function before and after procedures

What to expect during a renal scan

  • Renal scans take between 45 minutes and three hours.
  • A tracer is injected into the arm.
  • The tracer flows through the bloodstream to the kidneys.
  • A scanner makes images of the kidneys.
  • The tracer leaves the body when the patient urinates.
  • Radiologists look at the images and send a report to the patient’s provider.

    Are there risks from renal scans?

    The radioactive tracer used for the test can sometimes cause an allergic reaction in patients.

    These reactions are usually very mild and may cause pain and swelling at the injection site.

    The tracer does give off a small amount of radiation.

    There is no long term risk associated with radiation exposure.