IVU (Intravenous urogram) or IVP (IV pyelogram) | Cancer Research UK
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IVU (Intravenous urogram) or IVP (IV pyelogram)

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This page tells you about a test called an IVU (or IVP). You can find the following information

 

A quick guide to what’s on this page

What is an IVU or IVP?

An intravenous urogram (IVU) is sometimes called an intravenous pyelogram (IVP). This test uses X-rays to look at the kidneys, bladder, and the tubes that connect them (the ureters). Together these are called the urinary system. An injection of dye (contrast medium) into your bloodstream helps to show up any changes on the X-ray, including cancer.

Having an IVU or IVP

You have this test in the hospital X-ray department. Most people have it as an outpatient. You change into a gown, and lie on a couch. Then a nurse or doctor injects a dye into one of the veins in your arm. The radiographer takes X-rays as the dye passes through your system. The medical staff can watch this on the X-ray screen.

The test takes about an hour. It is painless apart from the small injection of dye. You may feel hot and flushed when you have the injection. This is common and usually only lasts a minute or two. Rarely, people have an allergic reaction to the dye. If this happens, the staff will give you medicines to control the reaction. Before the test, the radiographer will ask if you have any allergies or asthma.

You can go home straight after the test.

The results

It can take a couple of weeks to get the results. Contact your doctor's secretary or GP if you have not heard anything after this time.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guide for this page about the IVU (intravenous urogram) or IVP (IV pyelogram) test.

 

 

What an IVU is

An intravenous urogram (IVU) is sometimes called an intravenous pyelogram (IVP). It is a test that looks at the whole of your urinary system. It looks at the

  • Kidneys
  • Bladder
  • Tubes that connect them (ureters)

The male urinary system

urinary-system.gif

The female urinary system

The test uses a colourless dye, also called contrast medium. This shows up the soft tissues of the urinary system on a normal X-ray. It can show if cancer is growing in any part of your urinary system. The cancer will show up as a blockage or an irregular outline on the wall of the bladder or ureter.

 

Having an IVU

You have this test in the hospital X-ray department (radiology). It takes about an hour. It is usual to have this test done as an outpatient. Apart from a small injection of the dye, the test does not hurt at all. You will be told before your appointment, if you need to stop eating or drinking for a couple of hours before the test.

After you have changed into a hospital gown, the radiographer will take you into the X-ray room and help you onto the X-ray couch. First, they will inject some dye into one of your veins, usually in your arm. The injection may make you feel hot and flushed. Some people may get a metallic taste. These feelings usually only last a minute or two.

The dye circulates through your bloodstream and goes to your kidneys. The doctors can then watch the dye on an X-ray screen, as it goes through your kidneys and then through the ureters. The radiographer will take X-rays as the dye passes through your system. Before the last X-ray, they may ask you to go to the toilet to empty your bladder.

You can go home as soon as the test is over. You can eat and drink normally. The radiographer may tell you to drink plenty for a couple of hours after the test to help flush the dye out of your system.

 

Possible risks

Most people do not have problems having this test, but as with any medical procedure, there are possible risks. Doctors make sure the benefits of having the test outweigh these risks. As you have X-rays for this test, you are exposed to radiation. The amount of radiation is kept to the minimum necessary. If you are pregnant, or think you might be, you should contact the X-ray department before your appointment.

There is a risk of having an allergic reaction to the injection of dye, though this is rare. If this happens, the staff will give you medicines to control the reaction. The radiographer will ask if you have any allergies or asthma before you have the test.

 

The results

It can take time for test results to come through. How long will depend on why you are having the test but it may be a couple of weeks. Usually, a specialist in radiology examines the X-rays and dictates a report. The typed report and X-rays are then sent to your specialist, who gives the results to you. If your GP has sent you for the test, the results will be sent directly to the GP surgery.

Understandably, waiting for results can make you anxious. If your doctor needs the results urgently, they will make a note of this on the scan request form and they will be ready sooner. Try to remember to ask your doctor how long you should expect to wait for the results when you are first asked to go for the test. If it is not an emergency, and you have not heard a couple of weeks after your test, ring your doctor's secretary or GP to check if they are back.

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Updated: 25 April 2015