1. What is an IVU?
It is a special x-ray series done after initial screening test like an ultrasound study of the abdomen has reported the presence of some urinary tract abnormality that will need medical intervention. This therefore is a test which helps the doctor to visualize the entire urinary system. It reveals details of the kidney, ureter and urinary bladder. It is also possible to assess roughly how each kidney is functioning, and also to study the anatomy of the urinary tract like a road map. It therefore helps your doctor to make a decision on the type of treatment you require. It definitely also gives more details on the urinary tract than is possible generally, with an ultrasound study.
2. Is any preparation required prior to the IVU series?
Once the doctor has prescribed this test to be performed, the radiology department of our hospital will give you an appointment for the procedure along with this information brochure, about the details of the test. You will be asked to take laxative tablets, the night prior to the procedure, to empty the intestines. This is because, gas in the intestines will interfere with the x- rays, and obscure details of the kidney and the urinary tract. It is also advisable to come on an empty stomach for the procedure, but, you may have a cup of tea or coffee prior to coming for the procedure, if it is at least two hours before.If you have constipation, you may need bowel preparation for two days or more. Inform your doctor so that he will give you the necessary instructions. Enquire from the x-ray department regarding the cost of the test while fixing your appointment.
3. How is it done?
After you enter the radiology room, you will be requested to take off your garments and change into a gown. Please remove all money, your wallet, jewelry, other valuables, and metal objects from your body and hand it over personally to your relative or an identified attender before proceeding with the test. To start with, a plain x-ray of the abdomen will be taken. This is primarily to assess whether the x-ray picture has come out clear and whether it is worthwhile proceeding with the rest of the x-ray series. If there is a lot of intestinal gas or fecal matter in the intestines, the doctor after seeing the X-ray, may advise an enema to clear the bowel or may decide to do the x-ray series another day after better preparation.After this plain x-ray, an injection of the contrast will be given through your vein in to the arm. This passes through the blood stream into the kidneys and delineates the kidneys and the rest of the urinary system. Further x-ray pictures are taken to track the movement of the dye – usually after 5 minutes, 20 minutes, 45 minutes and a final picture after emptying the bladder. These timings may change, and will generally be dictated by your doctor, depending on the findings.
4. Will it be uncomfortable?
Having the injection is rather like having blood taken. The needle may hurt briefly while it goes through skin, but after that, you should not have any pain. It is not uncommon for people to feel a little nausea and/or warmth as the contrast medium flows into the body.
5. Are there any risks?
The contrast that is injected for the test is generally very safe. Literally, thousands of people have this injection in x-ray departments every day around the world. However, with every injection of the contrast medium, there is a small risk of reaction. Some people may develop a rash and a few may get a mild asthma attack. Very rarely some get a severe allergic reaction. The doctors and radiographers are trained to recognize these reactions and to treat them promptly.
6. On whom should an IVU not be done?
If you have borderline kidney failure or established kidney failure, an IVU should not be done and alternate tests are available. Your doctor will ensure that your serum creatinine (blood test to know the function of the kidneys) is normal before recommending this test. If you are diabetic or pregnant, inform your doctor. Pregnant women are advised not to undergo an IVU procedure.
7. Can you eat and drink after the procedure?
Unless some intervention has been planned on the same day, immediately after, you can consume your regular food and fluid.
8. When will you get the results of the test?
The films are uploaded immediately. Depending upon your doctor’s availability, you can consult the doctor at any time after this.
9. Are there any further tests required after the IVU test?
Sometimes yes, based on the IVU findings your doctor may ask for further tests that can help in planning your treatment.