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Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP)

An intravenous pyelogram (IVP) is an x-ray examination of the kidneys, urethras, and urinary bladder that uses contrast material. The ureters are the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

When the contrast media is injected into the patient's arm, it travels through the blood stream and collects in the kidneys and urinary tract, turning these areas bright white on the x-ray image.

An IVP allows the radiologist to view and assess the anatomy and function of the kidneys and lower urinary tract, as well as how quickly and efficiently the patient's system is able to handle fluid waste.

Patient information Guide

  • The IVP exam assists the radiologist to detect problems within the urinary tract resulting from:

    • kidney stones
    • other causes of obstruction
    • tumours in the kidney, urethras or urinary bladder.

    The conventional IVP studies have now been replaced by CT studies in many instances, especially suspected stones. It is much quicker, needs no contrast to see stones and gives accurate information.

  • Before your IVP

    You will be instructed not to eat or drink after midnight on the night before your exam. 

    You may also be asked to take a mild laxative (in either pill or liquid form) the evening before the procedure.

  • What to expect

    • You may be asked to remove some or all of your clothes and to wear a gown during the exam. 
    • You may also be asked to remove jewellery and any metal objects of clothing that might interfere with the x-ray images.
    • You will be positioned on the table and control x-ray images are taken. 
    • The contrast is then injected, usually in a vein in the arm, followed by additional x-ray images. You will feel a minor sting as the iodine is injected into your arm. Some patients experience a flush of warmth, a mild itching sensation and a metallic taste in their mouth as the iodine begins to circulate throughout their body. 
    • These common side effects usually disappear within a minute or two and are harmless. 
    • Itching that persists or is accompanied by skin rash can be easily treated with medication. 
    • In rare cases, a patient may become short of breath or experience swelling in the throat or other parts of the body.
    • These can be indications of a more serious reaction to the contrast that should be treated promptly. 
    • Tell the Radiographer immediately if you experience these symptoms.
    • You will be required to hold very still and may be asked to keep from breathing for a few seconds while the x-ray picture is taken to reduce the possibility of blurred images. The radiographer will walk behind a glass panel or into the next room to activate the x-ray machine.
    • While the contrast material is processed by the kidneys a series of images is taken to determine the actual size of the kidneys and to capture the urinary tract in action as it begins to excrete the contrast. 
    • The Radiographer may apply a compression band around the body to improve visualisation of the urinary structures and the kidneys.
  • For best results

    During the imaging process, you may be asked to turn from side to side and to hold several different positions to enable the radiographer to capture views from several angles. Near the end of the exam, you may be asked to empty your bladder so that an additional x-ray can be taken of your urinary bladder after it has emptied.

  • Let the Radiographer know

    • You should inform us of any medications you are taking and if you have any allergies, especially to contrast material and iodine. 
    • Also inform your doctor and us about recent illnesses or other medical conditions.
    • You should always inform the radiographer if there is any possibility that you are pregnant. 
    • Many imaging tests are not performed during pregnancy because radiation can be harmful to the foetus.
    • If an x-ray is necessary, precautions will be taken to minimise radiation exposure to the baby.
  • About your IVP

    • The contrast material used for IVP studies will not discolour your urine or cause any discomfort when you urinate. 
    • If you experience such symptoms after your IVP exam, you should let your doctor know immediately.
    • A  Radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyse the images and send a signed report to your primary care or referring physician, who will share the results with you.
  • IVP Tips

    • Imaging of the urinary tract with IVP is a non-invasive procedure with rare complications.
    • IVP images provide valuable, detailed information to assist physicians in diagnosing and treating urinary tract conditions from kidney stones to cancer.
    • An IVP can often provide enough information about kidney stones and obstructions to direct treatment with medication and avoid more invasive surgical procedures.
    • The imaging process is fast and painless.
    • No radiation or contrast remains in a patient's body after an x-ray examination.