Intravenous pyelogram

An intravenous pyelogram (PIE-uh-loh-gram), also called an excretory urogram, is an X-ray exam of your urinary tract. An intravenous pyelogram lets your doctor view your kidneys, your bladder and the tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder (ureters). An intravenous pyelogram may be used to diagnose disorders that affect the urinary tract, such as kidney stones, bladder stones, enlarged prostate, kidney cysts or urinary tract tumors.

During an intravenous pyelogram, you'll have an X-ray dye (iodine contrast solution) injected into a vein in your arm. The dye flows into your kidneys, ureters and bladder, outlining each of these structures. X-ray pictures are taken at specific times during the exam, so your doctor can clearly see your urinary tract and assess how well it's working.

Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

An intravenous pyelogram is used to examine your kidneys, ureters and bladder. It lets your doctor see the size and shape of these structures and determine if they're working properly. Your doctor may recommend an intravenous pyelogram if you're experiencing signs and symptoms — such as pain in your side or back, or blood in your urine — that may be related to a urinary tract disorder.

An intravenous pyelogram may be used to help diagnose conditions that affect the urinary tract, such as:

  • Kidney stones
  • Bladder stones
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Kidney cysts
  • Urinary tract tumors
  • Structural kidney disorders, such as medullary sponge kidney — a birth defect of the tiny tubes inside the kidneys

In the past, intravenous pyelogram was the most frequently used imaging test for evaluating possible urinary tract disorders. Since the development of kidney (renal) ultrasound and CT scans — which take less time and don't require X-ray dye — use of intravenous pyelograms has become less common. However, an intravenous pyelogram still can be a helpful diagnostic tool, particularly for:

  • Identifying certain structural urinary tract disorders
  • Detecting kidney stones
  • Providing information about urinary tract obstruction

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