An intravenous pyelogram is an imaging exam that may be used to help diagnose urinary tract disorders. Learn what to expect during the exam.
An intravenous pyelogram (PIE-uh-low-gram) is an X-ray exam of the urinary tract. Also called an excretory urogram, this exam allows your care team to see the parts of your urinary tract and how well they work.
This test can help with diagnosis of problems such as kidney stones, enlarged prostate, urinary tract tumors or problems present at birth.
During the test, an X-ray dye is injected into a vein in your arm. The dye flows into the kidneys, ureters and bladder, outlining each of these structures. X-ray pictures are taken at specific times during the exam.
You may need an intravenous pyelogram if you have symptoms, such as back or side pain or blood in the urine, that could mean you have a problem in your urinary tract.
This test can help your doctor diagnose certain conditions, such as:
Intravenous pyelogram was often used to check for urinary tract problems. But newer imaging tests, including ultrasound exams and CT scans, take less time and don't need X-ray dye. These newer tests are now more common.
But an intravenous pyelogram still can be a helpful tool for your health care provider to:
An intravenous pyelogram is generally safe. Complications are rare, but they can happen.
Injection of X-ray dye can cause side effects such as:
Rarely, severe reactions to the dye occur, including:
During X-rays, you're exposed to low levels of radiation. The amount of radiation you're exposed to during an intravenous pyelogram is small. The risk of any damage to cells in your body is low.
But if you're pregnant or think that you may be pregnant, tell your provider before you have an intravenous pyelogram. Your provider may decide to use another imaging test.
To prepare for the exam, tell your care team if you:
You may need to avoid eating and drinking for a certain amount of time before an intravenous pyelogram. Your doctor also may advise you to take a laxative the night before the exam.
Before your exam, a member of your care team may:
You lie on your back on an exam table. An X-ray machine is positioned over your abdomen. After that:
When your exam is done, the intravenous line is removed from your arm. You can return to your usual activities.
A doctor who specializes in reading X-rays reviews and interprets the images from your exam. The doctor is a radiologist. The radiologist sends a report to your health care provider. You'll talk with your provider about the test results at a follow-up appointment.