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Renal Ultrasound

  • Editorial Staff and Contributors
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Renal Ultrasound

(Ultrasound, Renal)


This test uses sound waves to study the urinary system. The urinary system includes the kidneys, bladder, and ureters. Ureters are the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder.

Reasons for Test

The test is done to look for:

  • Changes in the kidneys, bladder, and ureters
  • Changes in kidney size or structure
  • Kidney stone—cyst, mass, or other obstruction in the kidney
  • Stones in the urinary tract
  • Changes in the ureters

The test is also done to look at:

  • Kidneys before doing a renal biopsy, which takes and tests tissue from the kidney
  • Blood flow to the kidneys using a Doppler ultrasound
Urinary System with Stones

kidney stone and urinary system\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si55551768.jpgNULL64NULL2008-11-07268394Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Possible Complications

There are no complications associated with this test.

What to Expect

Prior to Test

  • Your doctor may do a physical exam.
  • You must have a full bladder for the test. Do not empty your bladder until after the ultrasound.

Description of Test

You will lie on a table. A gel will be put on your belly over your bladder and kidneys. The gel helps the sound waves travel between the machine and your body.

The ultrasound machine has a hand-held instrument called a transducer. It looks like a microphone or wand. The transducer is pushed against your skin where the gel was applied. The transducer sends sound waves into your body. The waves bounce off your internal organs and echo back to the transducer. The echoes are converted into images that are shown on a screen. The images are examined. A photograph of them may be made.

After Test

The gel will be wiped from your belly.

How Long Will It Take?

30 to 45 minutes

Will It Hurt?



The images will be viewed by your doctor or radiologist. Problems in your organs may be detected. Blockages may be seen in the ureters. In this case, more tests may be done to find the exact problem and cause.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have any questions about the test, your condition, or your test results.





  • Imaging of the urinary tract. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
  • Kidney ultrasound. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at:
  • Nephrolithiasis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.