Kidney, Ureter, and Bladder X-ray

What is a kidney, ureter, and bladder X-ray?

This type of X-ray may be done to check the belly (abdomen) for causes of pain. It may also be done to check the organs and structures of the urinary or digestive tract. The X-ray may be the first test done to check the urinary tract.

X-rays use beams of energy that pass through body tissues onto a special film and make a picture. They show pictures of your internal tissues, bones, and organs.

Why might I need a kidney, ureter, and bladder X-ray?

The X-ray may be done to diagnose the cause of belly (abdominal) pain. This can include things such as masses, tears (perforations), or blockage. The X-ray may be taken to look at the urinary tract before other tests are done for diagnosis. This test can find stones in the kidneys or ureters.

Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to recommend an X-ray.

What are the risks of a kidney, ureter, and bladder X-ray?

You may want to ask your healthcare provider about the amount of radiation used during the procedure and the risks related to your particular case. Keep a record of your past history of radiation exposure. Tell your healthcare provider about any previous scans and other types of X-rays. Risks linked to radiation exposure may be related to the total number of X-ray exams or treatments over a long period of time.

Tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or think that you could be. Radiation exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects.

There may be other risks depending on your own health problem. Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.

Certain things make an X-ray less accurate. These include:

  • Recent barium X-rays of the stomach

  • Gas, stool, or a foreign body in the intestine

  • Masses in the uterus or ovary

How do I get ready for a kidney, ureter, and bladder X-ray?

Advice for preparation includes the following:

  • Your healthcare provider will explain the procedure to you and offer you the chance to ask any questions that you might have about the procedure.

  • You usually don't need to fast before the test or have medicine (sedation) to help you relax.

  • Tell the radiologic technologist if you are pregnant or think you could be.

  • Tell your healthcare provider and radiology technologist if you have taken a medicine that contains bismuth, such as Pepto-Bismol, in the past 4 days. Medicines that contain bismuth may get in the way with testing procedures.

  • Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions, based on your health problem.

What happens during a kidney, ureter, and bladder X-ray?

A kidney, ureter, and bladder X-ray may be done on an outpatient basis. It can also be done as part of your hospital stay. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your healthcare provider’s practices.

Generally, an X-ray follows this process:

  1. You will be asked to remove any clothing, jewelry, or other objects that might get in the way of the procedure.

  2. If you are asked to remove clothing, you will be given a gown to wear.

  3. You will be placed in a way that carefully places the part of the stomach that is to be X-rayed between the X-ray machine and the film. You may be asked to stand up, lie flat on a table, or lie on your side on a table. Your position depends on the X-ray view your healthcare provider needs. You may have X-rays taken from more than 1 position.

  4. Body parts that are not part of the test may be covered with a lead shield to prevent exposure to the X-rays.

  5. Once you are positioned, the radiology technologist will ask you to hold still for a few moments while the X-ray exposure is made.

  6. It's very important to stay completely still while the X-ray is taken. Any movement may change the image. You may need to have another X-ray.

  7. The X-ray beam will be focused on the area to be photographed.

  8. The technologist will step behind a protective window while the image is taken.

The X-ray itself causes no pain. But moving the body part being looked at may cause some discomfort or pain. This is especially true if you have had a recent injury or surgery. The technologist will use all possible comfort measures. They will finish the procedure as quickly as possible to reduce any discomfort or pain.

What happens after a kidney, ureter, and bladder X-ray?

You don't often need any special care after a kidney, ureter, and bladder X-ray. Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions, depending on your situation.

Next steps

Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:

  • The name of the test or procedure

  • The reason you are having the test or procedure

  • What results to expect and what they mean

  • The risks and benefits of the test or procedure

  • What the possible side effects or complications are

  • When and where you are to have the test or procedure

  • Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are

  • What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure

  • Any alternative tests or procedures to think about

  • When and how you will get the results

  • Who to call after the test or procedure if you have questions or problems

  • How much you will have to pay for the test or procedure

Online Medical Reviewer: Neil Grossman MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2022
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