Renal Ultrasound

What It Is

A renal ultrasound is a safe and painless test that uses sound waves to make images of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder.

The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs located toward the back of the abdominal cavity, just above the waist. They remove waste products from the blood and produce urine. The ureters are thin tubes that carry the urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

During the examination, an ultrasound machine sends sound waves into the kidney area and images are recorded on a computer. The technologist will apply warm gel to your child’s abdomen. A small microphone device will be placed over various locations on the abdomen. The technologist may ask your child to use the restroom to empty the bladder and additional images may be taken afterward.

Why It's Done

Doctors order renal ultrasounds when there's a concern about certain types of kidney or bladder problems. Renal ultrasound tests can show:

  • the size of the kidneys
  • signs of injury to the kidneys
  • abnormalities present since birth
  • the presence of blockages or kidney stones
  • complications of a urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • cysts or tumors