Kidney Ultrasound to Diagnose Kidney Disease: What to Expect

Blog Post
By South Valley Vascular
March 29, 2022

On a daily basis, the body needs to remove excess water or waste from the body. That is where the kidneys play a vital role. Kidneys are bean-shaped organs located near the stomach, bladder, and pelvis. Their job is to filter out any extra fluids through the process of urination. Additionally, they produce important hormones, including vitamin D and erythropoietin. These hormones are responsible for sustaining the health of the bones and the body’s blood pressure.

However, a number of abnormalities can occur within the kidneys, including the production of kidney stones or urinary tract infections. Another condition on this list is kidney disease. This is a serious condition in which waste and fluids are not flushed out of the body as they should. When the kidneys cannot properly function, this can lead to even more serious diseases. These diseases include heart disease and hyperkalemia.

When a person experiences kidney disease, some common side effects include loss of appetite and muscle cramps. The pain from kidney disease can be excruciating for patients. Because of this, it is important to seek proper treatment. However, the most important step for patients to recover from kidney disease is a proper diagnosis. 

If your doctor feels you are showing signs of kidney disease, you will enter the next steps toward diagnosis. A physician may recommend that you undergo a kidney ultrasound. 

What Is an Ultrasound of the Kidneys?

Ultrasounds are imaging procedures that use high-frequency sound waves to form an image of the internal organs. Specifically, an ultrasound on the kidneys can evaluate a patient’s kidney health. By doing so, a doctor can determine if there are any present abnormalities in the kidneys. The ultrasound results allow them to properly diagnose kidney disease—if present in the body. Moreover, an ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure. This means that incisions do not need to be made on the body to examine kidney health.

The Ultrasound Process

Before a patient undergoes an ultrasound, a medical technician could ask that the patient not wear any jewelry. Moreover, patients need to drink a lot of water and not use the restroom to urinate. Maintaining a full bladder is important to assess the function of the kidneys. This is because the kidneys transfer waste to the bladder, a natural process in the urinary tract. Patients should speak with their doctor about any concerns or questions they have about the procedure.

On the day of the ultrasound, a patient may be given a gown to wear. Once the patient is dressed, the patient will lie down, exposing their back. Afterward, a technician will apply gel to the patient’s back—directly on their skin. Then, a medical transducer is a device placed against the skin, creating sound vibrations. These sound vibrations are transmitted to a computer to depict images of the kidneys. The purpose of the gel is to prevent any potential air pockets between the transducer and the skin.

The procedure usually lasts between thirty minutes to an hour. The physician may instruct the patient to adjust the patient’s torso during the procedure. There is unlikely to be any discomfort to the patient, besides a cold sensation from the gel. However, patients should not feel any pain throughout the ultrasound. Once the ultrasound is finished, patients can use the restroom. 

Afterward, patients do not have to adjust their diet or do anything different in their daily activities. It takes less than a few days for a doctor to receive and review the results. They can then talk with a patient about their kidney health. If signs of kidney disease are present in the ultrasound, your doctor can discuss your treatment options.

At South Valley Vascular, we value the health and wellness of our patients. To learn more about our ultrasound treatments for the vascular system, please visit our website today.