Intravenous Pyelogram Examination

About Your Intravenous Pyelogram

Intravenous pyelogram (IVP) is an X-ray examination of the urinary tract, which includes the kidneys, ureters and bladder. In order to examine the urinary tract, a substance called a contrast medium is injected into a vein.

How Does this Procedure Work?

X-rays normally pass through soft tissues of the body, such as those in the urinary tract. However, the contrast medium allows the urinary tract to be shown clearly on X-ray film. This substance causes the urinary tract organs to cast a shadow, which then is recorded on X-ray film for interpretation by the radiologist.

Preparing for the Exam

Your doctor will notify you regarding fluid intake and diet before the exam, which may include having a clear liquid breakfast on the morning of the procedure. To help clean the bowel, a laxative, suppository or enema may be recommended.

What to Expect

After removing your clothing and putting on a gown, you will be asked to lie on an examination table, with the X-ray equipment positioned above you. An X-ray may be taken before you receive the contrast medium. After the contrast medium is injected into a vein — usually in the arm — you may feel a warm sensation or have a metallic taste in your mouth. This is normal.

If you begin to itch, become short of breath or experience other discomforts, inform the technologist, although these side effect are very rare.

Periodically, you will be asked to turn from side to side and then to remain completely still in various positions while the X-rays are being taken.

The snapping and sliding sounds that you will hear as the procedure is performed are from the film cassette moving into place.

Near the end of the examination, you may be asked to empty your bladder, and then another X-ray will be taken.

The examination usually takes less than one hour. You will need to wait until the radiologist has examined the X-rays to ensure that they are acceptable.

After the examination is interpreted by the radiologist, a written report will be sent to your physician.

About the Radiation Dose

While a generally safe procedure, IVP does involve radiation. Keeping that in mind, the benefits of having it performed should outweigh any associated radiation risks.

Any woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding should inform her doctor before the exam is scheduled.

If you have any questions regarding your procedure, please contact the chief technologist at 732-923- 6800 or the medical physicist at 732-923-6811.

Click here for the informational brochure (pdf).