How Is a CT (Computed Tomography) Urogram Performed? (2024)

  • Definition
    • What is a CT urogram?
  • Indications
    • Why is a CT urogram done?
  • Procedure
    • How is a CT urogram performed?
  • Complications
    • What are the complications of a CT urogram?
  • Comments
  • More

What is a CT urogram?

How Is a CT (Computed Tomography) Urogram Performed? (1)

A CT (computed tomography) urogram is a non-invasive radiological examination of the urinary system. The doctor injects a mildly radioactive tracer compound into your vein, which then allows the radiologist to view the structure and function of the kidneys and bladder using the CT scanner.

A computed tomography (CT) urogram is an imaging test used to evaluate the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to urinary bladder), bladder, and urethra (urinary tract).

A CT urogram is performed by injecting a contrast dye (iodine contrast solution) into the vein in the hand or arm. The dye flows into the kidneys, ureters, and bladder outlining each of these structures. X-rays are used in a CT urogram to generate multiple thin-slice (5 mm) images of the urinary system at specific time intervals, starting just above the kidneys and ending just below the pubic bone. These images are then directed to a computer and are reconstructed into detailed two-dimensional (2D) images. These images can help the radiologist see the urinary system and assess if it is working well or identify any abnormalities.

Why is a CT urogram done?

A computed tomography (CT) urogram allows accurate visualization of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The size and shape of these structures can be assessed to determine if they are functioning properly and to look for any signs of diseases.

A CT urogram may be recommended if a patient is experiencing signs and symptoms that may be related to a urinary tract disorder such as:

See Also
CT scan

  • Pain in the back or side
  • Hematuria (blood in the urine)
  • An abnormal sonography report

A CT urogram helps to diagnose urinary conditions such as:

  • Blockages
  • Kidney stones
  • Bladder stones
  • Tumors or cysts
  • Cancer
  • Infection
  • Prostate issues
  • Structural abnormalities

How is a CT urogram performed?

Preparation for a computed tomography (CT) Urogram:

  • To expand (distend) the bladder, the patient may be asked to drink a certain amount of water and not urinate before the procedure. However, depending on the patient’s condition, guidelines about eating and drinking before a CT urogram may vary.
  • Before a CT urogram, the patient must inform the doctor if they
    • Have any allergies, particularly to iodine.
    • Had previous severe reaction to X-ray dyes.
    • Are pregnant or think that they might be pregnant.
    • Are taking any medications, such as antibiotics, metformin for diabetes, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or anti-rejection drugs or blood thinners.
    • Have any recent illness.
    • Have a medical condition, including heart disease, asthma, diabetes or kidney disease, or a prior organ transplantation.

Procedure for a CT urogram:

Usually, the patient lies on their back on an exam table attached to the CT scanner, although sometimes they may lie on their side or must change positions during a CT urogram. Straps and pillows may be used to help maintain the position and keep still during the exam.

  • An intravenous (IV) line will be placed into a vein in the hand or arm through which the X-ray dye will be injected.
  • The contrast dye medium may make the patient
    • Feel warm and flushed for 1-2 minutes.
    • Have a metallic taste in the mouth.
    • Feel like passing urine; this feeling is common and passes soon.

The scanner is a large doughnut-shaped machine with a large hole in the middle through which the table slides. Before the exam begins, the table will move quickly through the scanner to determine the correct position for the scans. During the actual CT urogram, the table will move slowly through the machine while the images are taken. If needed, the machine may make several passes.

  • You may notice slight buzzing and clicking as the machine takes pictures. To keep the images from blurring, the patient must to hold their breath for a few seconds during scanning.
  • The scan is painless but can be uncomfortable because one has to stay still, and some people may feel claustrophobic.
QUESTION The only purpose of the kidneys is to filter blood. See Answer

What are the complications of a CT urogram?

A computed tomography (CT) urogram is generally safe. Some possible risks associated with a CT urogram include:

  • Allergic reaction: There is a slight risk of an allergic reaction to the contrast dye material injected during a CT urogram. Reactions are generally mild and can be managed easily by medication. Allergic reactions that may occur include:
    • Nausea
    • Itching
    • Hives
    • Flushing or feeling of warmth
  • Pain, bruising, and swelling near the site of injection
  • Radiation hazard: A single CT urogram has no risk of secondary malignancy, but multiple tests and radiation exposures may slightly increase cancer risk. However, the benefits outweigh this risk.
  • Kidney damage: There is a small risk that the contrast medium used can affect the kidneys. The patient’s kidney function is checked before the test.
  • Pregnancy: If the patient is pregnant or might be pregnant, although the risk to the unborn baby is very low, the doctor may consider using another imaging test or waiting.

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How Is a CT (Computed Tomography) Urogram Performed? (2024)


How Is a CT (Computed Tomography) Urogram Performed? ›

X-rays are used in a CT urogram to generate multiple thin-slice (5 mm) images of the urinary system at specific time intervals, starting just above the kidneys and ending just below the pubic bone. These images are then directed to a computer and are reconstructed into detailed two-dimensional (2D) images.

How is a CT urogram performed? ›

A doctor may recommend that a person undergoes a CT urogram because they have been experiencing urinary tract symptoms. The procedure involves injecting a special dye into a vein in the hand or arm. The person will then lie on a bed inside the CT scanning machine as it takes a series of X-rays.

Is there any prep for a CT urogram? ›

Preparation for a CT urogram

You can usually eat and drink normally for this test. Follow the instructions given to you by your hospital. Usually, you have to drink a certain amount of water before you arrive for your CT scan. This is so your bladder can get bigger and be seen more clearly on the pictures.

Can a CT urogram be done without contrast? ›

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.

Is a CT urogram invasive? ›

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.

Why would a doctor 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.

Is a CT urogram better than a cystoscopy? ›

While some bladder tumors may be found on a CT urogram or other imaging test, others will not. A urologist will often recommend a cystoscopy to evaluate the lower urinary tract (bladder/urethra) for a source of blood in the urine or to workup other urologic symptoms.

Can you feel sick after a CT scan with contrast? ›

The CT scan is a very safe procedure. Some people who have an injection of iodinated contrast material may feel nauseous for a short time afterwards. On rare occasions, a person may have an allergic reaction to this substance.

What are the side effects of contrast dye after a CT scan? ›

Late adverse reactions after intravascular iodinated contrast medium include symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headache, itching, skin rash, musculoskeletal pain, and fever.

Is a CT urogram the same as an MRI Urogram? ›

MRU has better contrast resolution than CT urography without exposure to ionizing radiation and does not require IV contrast administration, making it more suitable for examination of pediatric and pregnant patients and patients with renal impairment [9] (Figs.

Does Medicare cover a CT urogram? ›

Does Medicare cover CT Scans? Yes. Medicare generally considers a CT scan as an outpatient non-laboratory test, meaning the coverage comes from Part B, while corresponding out-of-pocket expenses typically apply.

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.

Can you drink coffee before a CT urogram? ›

For four hours prior to your exam, please do not eat solid foods. You may drink fluids such as water, juice, or black decaffeinated coffee or tea. Some CT scan exams, particularly abdominal CT scans, may require that you drink water or an oral contrast so we may better visualize structures within the abdominal area.

What to wear for a CT urogram? ›

Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your exam. You may be given a gown to wear during the scan. Metal objects including jewelry, eyeglasses, dentures and hairpins may affect the CT images and should be left at home or removed prior to your exam.

Do you need a full bladder for a CT urogram? ›

This exam requires a full bladder. You will be given 2 glasses of water to drink within the 30 minutes prior to your exam. You will be asked to not use the restroom once you begin drinking the water. There are no special instructions after your CT scan.

How long does a CT urogram take? ›

How long does it take? A CT Urogram will take approximately 5-10 minutes. However, you may need to allow extra time for each procedure in case of delays or the occasional need for additional images.

How much water should I drink before a CT urogram? ›

CT Urogram requires: The patient should have nothing to eat or drink for a minimum of 3 hours prior to exam. The patient should drink 16 ounces of water 1 hour prior to the exam.

Can I wear a bra during a CT scan? ›

You will be required to remove any jewellery or loose metal objects. If you wear loose fitting clothing with no zips or metal fasteners (Ladies, please do not wear under-wired bras), you will not need to change into a hospital gown.

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