Diagnostic Radiology - Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP)

What is an intravenous pyelogram (IVP)?

An IVP is a diagnostic test that provides pictures of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, bladder, ureters and urethra.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

An IVP is usually performed to allow the physician to identify abnormalities within the urinary tract, such as hematuria, hydronephrosis, kidney stones or a ureteral obstruction.  Patients who undergo this procedure usually complain of pain, blood in the urine or difficulty with urination.

How should I prepare for the procedure?

Have a light breakfast the morning before your exam.  Have a liquid lunch and begin Golytely at 5, 6 or 7 pm.  Drink for three hours.  When done drinking (at 8, 9 or 10 pm), take 4 Dulcolax tablets.  Drink only water and then nothing after midnight.

Before the procedure begins, you will be asked to remove all jewelry and to change into a gown, so that no metal items will show up on the images.

Women should always inform their physician or technologist if there is any possibility that they may be pregnant.

If you have ever had an allergic reaction to iodine or contrast material, please inform your physician or call our facility prior to your exam.  Premedication may be necessary.

What does the equipment look like?

You will be positioned on an exam table.  Above you will be a box-like structure that contains the x-ray tube.  Underneath the table is a special drawer that holds film in a cassette tray for development of still images.

How is the procedure performed?

The technologist will review your medical history with you, and then position you on the exam table.  An x-ray will be taken prior to starting the procedure to ensure the colon is sufficiently prepped for the exam.  A small catheter will be inserted into a vein in your hand or arm, and a dye-like contrast material will be injected into your bloodstream.  The contrast will be filtered through your kidneys and collect in the bladder.  An image will be taken immediately after the injection, then 5, 10 and 15 minutes after the injection.  A radiologist will review the series of images and inform the technologist if any additional images need to be taken.  You will then be taken to the restroom to empty your bladder.  After voiding, one additional image will be taken.

The examination is usually completed within 45 - 60 minutes.

What will I experience during the procedure?

Some patients experience some discomfort as the needle is inserted into the vein.  Also, you may experience a minor sting as the contrast material is injected, and some patients describe a flush of warmth, a mild itching sensation or a metallic taste in the mouth as the contrast is circulated throughout the body.  These common sensations usually disappear within a minute or two and are harmless.  Rarely, some patients will experience an allergic reaction causing itching and/or hives.  In very 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 material that should be treated promptly.  Tell the technologist immediately if you experience these symptoms.

During the imaging process, you may be asked to turn from side to side and to hold several different positions to enable the technologist to capture views from several angles.  Some patients experience discomfort as a result of lying on the exam table, a hard surface that is typically quite cold.

Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

A radiologist will interpret the images, and a signed report will be sent to your physician who will discuss the results with you.