When you think of the renal system (or urinary tract), picture it as a carefully choreographed dance of three required parts:
- The kidneys generate urine by filtering wastes and extra water from the blood
- The ureters (two thin tubes of muscle) transport the urine from the kidneys to the bladder
- The bladder stores the urine and signals the body when it is time to empty the waste
A normal functioning renal system:
- Prevents the build-up of wastes and extra fluid in the body
- Stabilises the levels of electrolytes (such as potassium and phosphate)
- Makes hormones that help regulate blood pressure
- Creates red blood cells
- Maintains strong bones
The renal system can function under stress or other challenging conditions. Like other systems in our bodies, it’s both durable and resilient. Still, for the millions of people at risk of chronic kidney disease (a condition that weakens the kidneys and can lead to kidney failure), regular testing (from simple blood tests and urine tests, to advanced imaging tests) is recommended.
What are the reasons for a renal ultrasound?
- To assess the size, location, and shape of the kidneys and related structures, such as the ureters and bladder.
- To detect cysts, tumours, abscesses, obstructions, fluid collection, and infection within or around the kidneys.
- To detect calculi and stones in the kidneys and ureters.
- To assist in placement of needles used to biopsy (obtain a tissue sample) the kidneys, to drain fluid from a cyst or abscess, or to place a drainage tube. This procedure may also be used to determine blood flow to the kidneys through the renal arteries and veins.
- May also be used after a kidney transplant to evaluate the transplanted kidney.
What is a kidney ultrasound?
A kidney ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic exam that produces images, which are used to assess the size, shape, and location of the kidneys. Ultrasound may also be used to assess blood flow to the kidneys.
Ultrasound uses a transducer that sends out ultrasound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. The ultrasound transducer is placed on the skin, and the ultrasound waves move through the body to the organs and structures within. The sound waves bounce off the organs like an echo and return to the transducer. The transducer processes the reflected waves, which are then converted by a computer into an image of the organs or tissues being examined.
Unlike other scans such as MRI and CT, ultrasound does not involve radiation and is in real time i.e. live imaging and is not static i.e. still pictures. This live information is interpreted and is used as the basis of the subsequent diagnostic report. Ultrasound may be safely used during pregnancy or in the presence of allergies to contrast dye, because no radiation or contrast dyes are used.
Why book a private ultrasound scan?
Many of our clients choose to book an ultrasound scan with us after having been referred for a scan in the NHS by their GP, but are unwilling to wait for a scan appointment within the NHS- which can take many weeks. Going privately bypasses this, allowing quicker, more convenient appointments, meaning faster results. We offer flexible and convenient appointments, with clinics running during the day, evening and weekends.