Nuclear Medicine Renal Scan

What is a Renal Scan?

A nuclear medicine renal scan is a very accurate means of measuring kidney function.  This exam is done primarily on patients with known kidney disease to evaluate the kidney’s ability to clear fluids from the body.  Sometimes this examination is done in conjunction with the injection of a diuretic used to help empty the kidneys.  Sometimes the exam is done with both a diuretic and a drug given to measure kidney function while patients are on that type of medication.

How is the examination performed?

A registered and certified Nuclear Medicine Technologist will perform your examination and can answer any questions you may have.  This exam is performed by injecting a small, safe amount of radioactive tracer into an intravenous (IV) site in your hand or arm.  Images are obtained of your kidneys during the injection and after the injection.  The amount of time depends on the type of renal exam you are having.

Who is a candidate for a Renal Scan?

Anyone that has uncontrolled hypertension, or kidney function issues are typically scanned for this examination.  We also scan patients that only have one kidney or have recently undergone kidney transplant.

Will I need to prepare for the exam?

Yes, please come to your appointment well hydrated by drinking 3-4 glasses of water.  You should also not have anything to eat or drink, other than the water, for 4 hours prior to your examination.  If you are currently taking ACE inhibitor medications, please consult your Physician because you need to be off of those medications for 48 hours before you can have this test.

What will I experience?

Your Nuclear Medicine Technologist will thoroughly explain the examination and then ask if you have any questions.  You will then be asked to lie down on your back on our scanning table.  The Technologist will place a tourniquet on your arm and look for an IV access site.  Once a site is identified, the Technologist will cleanse the site with alcohol.  The Technologist will then enter the vein with an angiocatheter to gain IV access.  The Technologist will then prepare your injection, set up the camera, and then the exam will begin.  The imaging process will last about 30 minutes.  Every effort to keep you comfortable will be made.  You will either be done or if you are scheduled for a blood pressure study, your Technologist will administer a drug.  This is usually given in the form of a pill.  The Technologist will monitor your blood pressure for an hour.

Following the hour, you will return to nuclear medicine scanner, where you will have another scan identical to the one you had previously.  This will again last 30 minutes.  Upon completion of the images, the Technologist will remove the IV, and you are all done.

What happens next?

Your images will be analyzed by the Technologist and the nuclear medicine computer and sent to the Radiologist’s computer for interpretation.

Your images will be interpreted by a State of New Mexico licensed and board certified Physician, Radiologist, that specializes in radiology interpretation.  A report will be dictated, transcribed, and faxed to the Physician that ordered your test.  Your Physician will receive the report within 24 hours and is responsible for notifying  you of the results.