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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). There is information about


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 a 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 also 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 does not harm you and the feeling passes within a few minutes. You can go home after the test.

The results

It can take a couple of weeks to get the results. Contact your doctor if you have not heard from the hospital after this time.


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What an IVU is

An intravenous urogram (IVU) is sometimes called a 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


The female urinary system

The test uses a 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. It takes about an hour. It is quite usual to have this test done as an outpatient. Apart from a small injection of the dye, the test does not hurt at all.

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, you will have some dye injected into one of your veins, usually into an arm. Before you have this, the nurse or radiographer will ask you about allergies or asthma as some people can be allergic to it. The injection may make you feel hot and flushed for a minute or two. But it is not harmful and this feeling soon disappears.

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 tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder (ureters). The radiographer will take X-rays as the dye passes through your system.

You can go home as soon as the test is over.


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 needed the results urgently, it would have been noted on the scan request form and they will be ready quickly. 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 to check if they are back.

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Updated: 13 August 2013