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Home > Health Library > Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP)
An intravenous pyelogram (IVP) is an X-ray test that provides pictures of the kidneys, the bladder, the ureters, and the urethra (urinary tract). An IVP can show the size, shape, and position of the urinary tract, and it can evaluate the collecting system inside the kidneys.
During IVP, a dye called contrast material is injected into a vein in your arm. A series of X-ray pictures is then taken at timed intervals.
IVP is commonly done to identify diseases of the urinary tract, such as kidney stones, tumors, or infection. It is also used to look for problems with the structure of the urinary tract that were present from birth (congenital).
An ultrasound or a computed tomography (CT) scan may be combined with an IVP if more details about the urinary tract are needed. A computed tomography intravenous pyelogram (CT/IVP) is usually done to look for the cause of blood in the urine.
An intravenous pyelogram (IVP) is done to:
Before having an intravenous pyelogram (IVP), tell your doctor if:
You may need to stop eating and drinking for 8 to 12 hours before the IVP. You also may need to take a laxative the evening before the test (and possibly have an enema the morning of the test) to make sure that your bowels are empty.
This test is often done in children to see if they may have an abnormal backflow of urine (vesicoureteral reflux). Prepare your child for exams and tests that are needed. Explain them in a simple way. Use positive words as much as possible. Doing so will help your child understand what to expect and can help reduce fears.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form .
An intravenous pyelogram (IVP) is usually done by a radiology technologist. The IVP pictures are interpreted by a doctor who specializes in interpreting imaging tests (radiologist).
You will need to remove any jewelry that might interfere with the X-ray picture. You will need to take off all or most of your clothes, and you will be given a cloth or paper covering to use during the test. You will be asked to urinate just before the test begins.
You will lie on your back on an X-ray table. An X-ray picture of your belly will be taken and reviewed by the radiologist before the next part of the test begins.
The injection site on your arm will be cleaned and the contrast material will be injected into a vein on the inside of your elbow. The dye travels through the bloodstream, is filtered out by the kidneys, and passes into the urine. The urine then flows into the tubes (ureters) that lead to the bladder.
X-ray pictures are taken several minutes apart as the dye goes through the urinary tract. Each picture is developed right away. Sometimes more pictures are taken based on earlier ones. You may be asked to turn from side to side or to hold several different positions so the radiologist can take a complete series of X-rays.
During IVP, a compression device may wrapped around your belly to keep the dye in the kidneys. The most common compression device is a wide belt containing two inflated balloons that push in on either side of your belly to block the passage of dye through the ureters. If you have recently had abdominal surgery or have an abdominal disorder, the band will not be used.
A special type of X-ray technique called fluoroscopy may also be used during IVP. During fluoroscopy, a continuous X-ray beam is used to display a moving image on a video monitor.
IVP usually takes about an hour.
After the test is over, you will need to drink plenty of liquids to help flush the contrast material out of your body.
You will feel no discomfort from the X-rays. The X-ray table may feel hard and the room may be cool. You may find that the positions you need to hold are uncomfortable.
You will feel a brief sting when the needle is inserted into the vein in your arm. When the contrast material is injected, you may feel slight burning in your arm and flushing throughout your body. You may also notice a salty or metallic taste in your mouth.
The compression belt may feel tight. If it is painful, tell the technologist and ask that it be readjusted.
You may feel slightly weak, nauseated, or lightheaded for a short time after the test.
There is always a slight chance of damage to cells or tissue from radiation, including the low levels of radiation used for this test. But the chance of damage from the X-rays is usually very low compared with the benefits of the test.
There is slight risk of having an allergic reaction to the contrast material. The reaction can be mild (itching, rash) or severe (trouble breathing or sudden shock). Death resulting from an allergic reaction is very rare. Most reactions can be controlled with medicine. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have asthma or allergies of any kind, such as hay fever, iodine allergy, bee stings, or food allergies.
People with certain conditions (such as diabetes, multiple myeloma, chronic kidney disease, sickle cell disease, or pheochromocytoma) have increased chances of having sudden kidney failure from IVP. Older adults and people taking medicines that affect the kidney may also have increased chances for problems after an IVP.
An intravenous pyelogram (IVP) is an X-ray test that provides pictures of the kidneys, the bladder, the ureters, and the urethra (urinary tract). Your doctor may be able to talk to you about some results right away. Complete results are usually ready in 1 to 2 days.
The kidneys, ureters, and bladder are normal in position, size, and shape.
The contrast material reaches the kidneys in a normal amount of time.
No blockage can be seen in the kidneys, ureters, or bladder.
In men, the prostate gland looks normal in position, size, and shape.
The kidneys, ureters, or bladder may be abnormal in position, size, or shape. A kidney may be absent, or an extra kidney or ureter may be present.
The kidneys are too large or too small.
The contrast material takes longer than normal to reach a kidney.
An abnormal growth (such as a tumor), one or more cysts, an abscess, or a kidney stone is seen.
A kidney is swollen with urine from a blockage such as a tumor or kidney stone.
Injury to the kidney, ureter, or bladder is seen.
The kidney contains scarring.
In men, the prostate gland is too large.
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
An intravenous pyelogram (IVP) is not usually done for a pregnant woman because the X-rays could damage the growing baby. If a view of a pregnant woman's kidneys is needed, an ultrasound test may be done instead.
Other Works Consulted
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.
Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
Current as of:
September 23, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: September 23, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
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