An Intravenous Urogram (IVU), sometimes called an Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP), is an x-ray examination of the kidneys, ureters and urinary bladder. An IVU can be used to detect the cause of a wide variety of disorders, including frequent urination, blood in the urine or pain in the side or lower back. It can detect problems within the urinary tract resulting from kidney stones, an enlarged prostate, internal injuries after an accident or trauma, and tumours in the kidneys, ureters and urinary bladder.
Preparation for an IVU
Detailed instructions will be given on how to prepare for an IVU at the time of booking your appointment. This will involve modifying your diet the day prior to your examination and taking a mild laxative in tablet form the evening before your examination. You should inform staff if you are diabetic or taking any medications.
The IVU Procedure
As the kidneys and bladder are soft tissue structures and do not show up very clearly on x-ray, it is necessary to inject a contrast medium (x-ray dye) to get a clear picture. Whilst the injection is called a dye, it is colourless. Some preliminary plain films are taken, and then you will be given an injection, usually into a vein on the inside of the elbow, or on the back of the hand. The contrast, which circulates through the blood stream is filtered out by the kidneys and then passes down the ureters to the bladder. Images are obtained at regular intervals to assess the function of the kidneys. Because the kidneys move when you breathe, you will be asked to briefly hold your breath to avoid a possible blurred image resulting in a loss of important detail. A wide band is usually put around the waist and tightened for a few minutes to stop the contrast from draining into the bladder. This is most important as it assists in providing better pictures of the kidneys. Before the end of the examination you will be asked to empty your bladder and then the last image is taken.