CT Urogram: Purpose, Procedure, Risks & Results (2024)

How do I prepare for a CT urogram?

Before your CT urogram, your healthcare provider will check your vitals (temperature, pulse and blood pressure). They’ll also ask you questions, including:

  • Do you have any medical conditions?
  • Do you have any allergies to contrast dye or iodine?
  • Are you pregnant, or do you think you might be pregnant?
  • Are you taking any medications, including medications for diabetes (metformin), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics or blood-thinning medications (warfarin)?

You may need to take a blood test before your CT urogram. A blood test will ensure your healthcare provider uses the right contrast dye.

If you’re allergic to a contrast dye, you may need to take a steroid medication the night before and the morning of your procedure. You will also likely take an antihistamine before the CT urogram. Your healthcare provider can order these medications for you.

Your healthcare provider will also give you instructions on how to prepare for your CT urogram.

What to expect before a CT urogram

You may have to drink water before your CT urogram and hold your pee until after the test. Drinking water and holding your pee will cause your bladder to expand, making it easier for your healthcare provider to assess.

It’s also a good idea to wear comfortable clothes. You may need to change into a gown before the CT urogram and remove your watch and other jewelry, including piercings. You may need to remove your dentures or hearing aids as well. Metal objects can obstruct the scan.


What to expect during a CT urogram

During a CT urogram, you will lie on your back on a table (like a bed), though you may also lie on your sides and stomach. Your healthcare provider may ask you to lie on cushions. Cushions help keep your body in the best, most comfortable position during the scan.

A healthcare provider will use a small needle and tube to deliver the contrast dye directly into a vein in your arm or hand (intravenously). It usually isn’t painful, but you will feel a slight pinch as the needle goes through your skin.

As the contrast dye flows through your veins, you may feel warm or flushed, almost like you’re embarrassed. Some people feel nauseous or develop a headache. You may also have a salty or metallic taste in your mouth, and you may suddenly feel like you have to pee. These feelings should go away after a few moments.

When the scan begins, the bed slowly moves into the doughnut-shaped tube. It’s important to stay as still as possible — movement can create blurry images. Let your healthcare provider know if you have to move because you’re uncomfortable or have an itch.

The scanner takes pictures of the areas that your healthcare provider needs to see. The scanner is relatively quiet as it takes pictures. Some people find the process relaxing and may fall asleep.

However, the bed may be slightly noisy as it gradually moves in and out of the scanner while taking images.

How long does a CT urogram last?

Typically, you should plan for an hour for a CT urogram. You and your healthcare providers need time to prepare. The entire session takes between 10 and 30 minutes in order for your body to process the contrast material. Each scan takes between 10 and 30 seconds to complete. You must have several scans to complete the full exam.

What to expect after a CT urogram

Once the scan is complete and your radiologic technologist verifies that the images are clear, they’ll remove the IV from your vein and bandage the area. If you changed into a gown before the scan, you can put your clothes back on.

What are the risks of a CT urogram?

CT urograms are generally safe. However, CT urograms, like other diagnostic imaging procedures, use a small amount of ionizing radiation to capture images. Some risks associated with CT urograms include:

  • Cancer risk. All imaging that uses radiation causes a small increase in your risk of developing cancer. The increase is too small to measure effectively.
  • Allergic reactions. Occasionally, some people have a minor or more serious allergic reaction to the contrast dye.
  • Bruising or angioedema (swelling). Bruising or swelling around the needle injection site may occur.

If you have any concerns about the risks associated with a CT urogram, talk to your healthcare provider. They will listen to your concerns and help you make an informed decision.

CT Urogram: Purpose, Procedure, Risks & Results (2024)


CT Urogram: Purpose, Procedure, Risks & Results? ›

A computed tomography (CT) urogram is a useful diagnostic tool for detecting conditions that affect your urinary system. It uses a series of X-rays and a computer to produce three-dimensional images of your soft tissues and bones. CT urograms are painless and have minor risks to your overall health.

What are the risks of CT urogram? ›

Bruising and swelling

You might get a small bruise around the area where they put the needle in for the cannula. There's a risk that the contrast medium will leak outside the vein. This can cause swelling and pain in your hand or arm but it's rare.

Why would a urologist order a CT urogram? ›

Your doctor may recommend a CT urogram if you have signs and symptoms — such as pain in your side or back or blood in your urine (hematuria) — that may be related to a urinary tract disorder. A CT urogram may be helpful in diagnosing urinary tract conditions such as: Kidney stones. Bladder stones.

What is the difference between a CT scan and a CT urogram? ›

A CT (computerised tomography) scan uses x-rays and a computer to create a detailed picture of the inside of the body. A scan of the urinary system may be called a CT urogram, CT IVP (intravenous pyelogram) or a triple-phase abdomen and pelvis CT – these are different names for the same test.

What is the protocol for CT urogram? ›

The CT urogram is most commonly performed as a three-phase computed tomography technique used to evaluate the kidneys and urinary collecting system. The three phases most commonly include a non-contrast phase, a nephrographic phase scanned at 80 to 120 s delay, and an excretory phase scanned at 10–15 min delay (Fig.

What is a disadvantage or danger of CT scans? ›

Concerns about CT scans include the risks from exposure to ionizing radiation and possible reactions to the intravenous contrast agent, or dye, which may be used to improve visualization. The exposure to ionizing radiation may cause a small increase in a person's lifetime risk of developing cancer.

What damage can a CT scan cause? ›

CT scans use X-rays, which produce ionizing radiation. Research shows that this kind of radiation may damage your DNA and lead to cancer. But the risk is very small – your chances of developing a fatal cancer because of a CT scan are about 1 in 2,000. But radiation's effects add up over your lifetime.

How soon do doctors receive CT scan results if serious? ›

Getting your CT scan results

It usually takes between 1 and 2 weeks for you to get your CT scan results. The images need to be looked at by a specialist called a radiologist. The radiologist will write to the doctor who referred you for the scan. You may need a follow-up appointment to talk about your CT scan results.

Why no caffeine after CT scan with contrast? ›

Caffeine alters the distribution of the radiopharmaceutical throughout your body, specifically to your heart. Decaf coffee still has trace amounts of caffeine so it is safer to avoid it all together.

Does CT urogram check for prostate? ›

This allows accurate visualization of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra, which in turn allows a more accurate diagnosis of urinary conditions such as stones, blockages, kidney and bladder disease, and prostate issues.

What medication breaks up kidney stones? ›

Uric acid stones are the only type of kidney stones that can sometimes be dissolved with the help of medication. Alkaline citrate salts or sodium bicarbonate are considered for this purpose, and sometimes allopurinol.

Is a CT urogram invasive? ›

A CT (computed tomography) urogram is a non-invasive radiological examination of the urinary system.

What can a CT scan show on the kidneys? ›

CT scans of the kidneys are useful in the examination of one or both of the kidneys to detect conditions such as tumors or other lesions, obstructive conditions, such as kidney stones, congenital anomalies, polycystic kidney disease, accumulation of fluid around the kidneys, and the location of abscesses.

Why would a doctor order a CT urogram? ›

Your urologist may order a CT urogram if you have symptoms of a condition that affects your urinary system. A CT urogram helps your healthcare provider see your urinary system. CT urograms can help diagnose: Kidney stones.

How many phases are there in a CT urogram? ›

Standard CT urography consists of unenhanced, nephrographic, and pyelographic phases.

Why would an urologist do a cystoscopy? ›

Cystoscopy can help find problems with the urinary tract. This may include early signs of cancer, infection, narrowing, blockage, or bleeding. To do this procedure, a long, flexible, lighted tube, called a cystoscope, is put into the urethra and moved up into the bladder.

How much radiation is in a CT urogram? ›

There are substantial variations in CT urography and routine abdomen-pelvis CT protocols result in massive radiation doses (up to 2945−3618 mGy.cm).

Can CT scan cause kidney damage? ›

What is Contrast Induced Nephropathy (CIN)? CIN is a rare disorder and occurs when kidney problems are caused by the use of certain contrast dyes. In most cases contrast dyes used in tests, such as CT (computerized tomography) and angiograms, have no reported problems.

Is there any prep for a CT urogram? ›

Preparation: Only have clear liquids 2 hours prior to your scheduled CT exam. Please arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled exam time. This exam requires a full bladder.

What are the risks of CT contrast dye? ›

Delayed adverse reactions to radiographic contrast media are usually cutaneous (reported incidence varies from 1% to 23%) and include rash, skin redness, and skin swelling, sometimes associated with nausea, vomiting, and dizziness, that begin 1 hour or longer (usually 6–12 hours) after the administration of the ...

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