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Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP)

An intravenous pyelogram (IVP) is an examination of the urological tract – including kidneys, bladder, and ureters – using non-invasive, traditional x-ray technology with iodinated contrast material injected into veins. An IVP is used to diagnose symptoms such as blood in the urine or lower back pain, and can detect such issues as kidney stones, enlarged prostate, tumors, or congenital anomalies.

An IVP is conducted with the patient lying flat on the table, after having been injected with iodinated contrast material prior to the examination. Typically the procedure lasts only minutes, and is usually painless. Patients may experience a warm flush as the contrast material passes through the body, along with mild itching and a metallic taste in their mouth. Rarely, patients will experience more serious side effects as a result of allergy to the contrast material, and this should be treated promptly by the physician.

As with all x-ray technology, IVP uses small amounts of radiation (the lowest possible dose) and therefore is not recommended for women who are or might be pregnant, and children.

An IVP shows details of the inside of the urinary tract including the kidneys, ureters and bladder – but does not provide information about functioning tissue of these structures or surrounding systems, as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will do. For this reason this procedure is no longer as common as it was, but may still be indicated in your particular case.