Nephrology Tests & Procedures
Your doctor asks about your medical history to determine if you have any conditions that might increase your risk for kidney disease. He or she also performs a physical exam to check your blood pressure and heart rate and look for swelling in your legs and abdomen. Your doctor may then recommend one or more tests to pinpoint your diagnosis, check for kidney damage and evaluate how well your kidneys are working. We typically use several analytical tests.
Your doctor may order a blood test to check the levels of waste substances, including creatinine and urea. A blood creatinine test helps the doctor determine the kidneys’ level of function by providing information about the glomerular filtration rate, a measurement of how well the kidneys are filtering blood.
A blood urea nitrogen test measures levels of a waste product called urea nitrogen in the blood. Urea nitrogen is made in the liver and passes through the kidneys for filtering before being excreted in urine. High levels can indicate that the kidneys are not working properly.
Blood tests can also determine if you have anemia, in which the body doesn’t make enough red blood cells, which carry oxygen to tissue and organs in the body. Healthy kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin, which triggers the bone marrow to produce red blood cells.
A urine sample may be tested for excess protein (a sign of kidney disease), and other abnormalities, including sugar, red or white blood cells, and bacteria. These substances can leak into the urine when the kidneys aren’t functioning properly. Levels of protein and white and red blood cells in the urine can help the doctor pinpoint the abnormality in the kidneys.
An ultrasound uses sound waves to “see” inside your body and produce images of the kidneys and other parts of the urinary system. Your doctor may perform an ultrasound to determine the size of the kidneys. This procedure is used to detect a mass, cyst, kidney stone or other obstruction in the kidney.
Computed Tomography (CT) Scan/ CT Angiography
Angiography or arteriography is a time-tested way to study the health of veins and arteries. Though often associated with the heart, it can be used to determine whether blood vessels throughout the body are blocked, damaged or malformed. A CT scanner uses a combination of a high-tech X-ray scanner and sophisticated computer analysis to provide detailed, 3D images of the blood vessels in your body, such as those in the abdomen, kidneys and legs. It can be used to identify weakened sections of arteries or veins and to visualize blood flow. CT angiography provides your doctors with more-precise images of your blood vessels than either MRI or ultrasound technology.
Renal MRI Scan
Often, doctors rely on MRI scans to diagnose kidney cancer, especially if a CT scan does not provide enough detail. An MRI scan uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create computerized, highly detailed, three-dimensional images of the anatomy of the kidneys. An MRI can sometimes enable doctors to tell the difference between a potentially cancerous mass, a benign growth such as a cyst, and a non-cancerous fatty tumor called an angiomyolipoma. It may help a doctor determine whether a possible cancer has spread to blood vessels, as well as the surrounding organs or lymph nodes. Doctors may also use MRI to help determine the subtype of tumors present and to measure kidney function by detecting how much blood is being filtered through each kidney.
Kidney Biopsy for Microscopic Analysis
Doctors perform what’s known as a kidney biopsy if they need more information about a tumor before making a treatment recommendation. A small sample of kidney tissue may be removed through a thin needle to check for damage and signs of certain diseases. Biopsy findings may also help doctors determine the best treatment for your kidney disease.
Urology Tests & Procedures
Your doctor asks about your medical history to determine if you have any conditions that might increase your risk for a genitourinary disease. He or she also performs a physical exam to check your blood pressure and heart rate and look for swelling in your legs and abdomen. Your doctor may then recommend one or more tests to pinpoint your diagnosis and check for any genitourinary conditions. We typically use several analytical tests.
An adrenal gland is a hormone-producing organ located on the top of each kidney. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to create detailed image slices (cross sections) of the body. MR technology produces good soft-tissue images and allows the doctor to evaluate different types of body tissue, as well as distinguish normal, healthy tissue from diseased tissue.
Pelvic MRI with Prostate Probe
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to create detailed image slices (cross sections) of the different parts of your body. This allows the doctor to evaluate different types of normal body tissue, including seminal vesicles, bladder and lymph nodes; as well as distinguish normal, healthy tissue from diseased tissue. MRI spectroscopy is a noninvasive test used to analyze the chemical composition of tissue to identify any biochemical changes, which may suggest a disease or health condition.
Digital Rectal Exam
A digital rectal exam (DRE) is a routine screening test for both men and women that may be able to detect:
- Prostate gland abnormalities:
- Abnormal growth
- Enlargement (benign prostatic hypertrophy)
- Inflammation (prostatitis)
- Tumors of the cervix, uterus and ovaries
- Abnormalities in the bladder and rectum (growths, polyps and abscesses)
- Rectal or vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain
- Changes in bowel or bladder habits
DREs are also used in conjunction with other tests to diagnose prostate, colon and rectal cancer. Patients should notify the doctors if they have hemorrhoids, before performing this test.
Nuclear Renal Scan
Your doctor may order a nuclear renal scan to evaluate kidney function and perfusion, kidney failure, kidney obstruction and to follow up on kidney transplants. Renal scans may also be used to screen and diagnose renovascular hypertensive disease.
Prostate CT Scan
A computed tomography scan (CT or CAT) uses a combination of a high-tech X-ray scanner and sophisticated computer analysis to provide detailed, 3D images of the blood vessels in your body, such as those in the pelvic and hip area.
An ultrasound of your prostate gland also called a transrectal ultrasound is a painless procedure that uses sound waves to “see” inside your body. A prostate ultrasound can help diagnose medical conditions such as cancer, inflammation of the prostate gland or infertility.
A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen in the blood. PSA is released into a man’s blood by his prostate gland. Healthy men have low amounts of PSA in the blood. The amount of PSA in the blood normally increases as a man’s prostate enlarges with age. PSA may increase because of inflammation of the prostate gland (prostatitis) or prostate cancer. The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is done to screen common medical conditions related to the prostate gland.
Pelvis / Renal Ultrasound
Ultrasound of your pelvis is a safe and painless procedure that uses sound waves to “see” inside your body. Your doctor may perform an ultrasound to determine the cause of pain or bleeding in the reproductive organs.
Ultrasound of your testicles is a painless way to see what is going on inside your body. It allows doctors to differentiate between different types of tissue and to diagnose a range of medical conditions.
Ultrasound is a safe and painless procedure that uses sound waves to “see” inside your body and create detailed images which the doctor can study. “Transvaginal” means “through the vagina.” This is an internal examination which involves your doctor or a technician inserting an ultrasound probe about two or three inches into your vaginal canal. It is a type of pelvic ultrasound used by doctors to examine female reproductive organs like the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and vagina to identify abnormalities and help doctors diagnose conditions.
Ultrasound + Biopsy
Your doctor may order an ultrasound-guided biopsy to remove a sample of tissue for testing in a laboratory. A biopsy can help diagnose abnormalities such as infection, inflammation or malignancy. During your biopsy, an imaging doctor will use an ultrasound scanner to accurately guide a needle to the site of the biopsy. The needle will then be used to remove a tissue sample.