Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP)

An intravenous pyelogram (IVP) is a diagnostic x-ray of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder. When a contrast agent is injected intravenously, the urinary tract, which is not seen on regular x-rays, will show up very clearly. An intravenous pyelogram may be done for many reasons, including:

  • to detect kidney tumors.
  • to identify blockages or obstructions of the normal flow of urine.
  • to detect kidney or bladder stones.
  • to detect injuries to the urinary tract.

How are intravenous pyelograms performed?
Intravenous pyelograms are usually done on an outpatient basis, although they can be part of inpatient care. The patient may also be asked to take a laxative to clean out the bowel before the exam. The procedure is done with minimal risk to the patient. Although each hospital may have specific protocols in place, generally, an intravenous pyelogram procedure follows this process:

  1. The patient is positioned on the x-ray table.
  2. A preliminary x-ray is taken.
  3. Contrast in injected into the vein in the arm.
  4. During the injection of the contrast agent, the patient may feel warm and become flushed, only for a minute or so. This reaction is normal.
  5. X-rays are taken as the dye travels through the urinary tract.
  6. At times the patient may have to change positions as the x-rays are taken and may be asked to empty the bladder.
  7. A final x-ray is taken after urination to determine the amount of contrast dye remaining in the urinary tract.