Renal Artery Ultrasound

Image of normal vascular structures in the kidneyA renal artery ultrasound evaluates the arteries that supply blood to the kidneys.  Images are acquired using a hand held probe (transducer) that is applied to the abdomen. 

Why is a renal artery ultrasound performed?

This test is used to:

  • Look for blockages or narrowing of the renal arteries which may contribute to hypertension or renal dysfunction.
  • Monitor existing renal artery disease, or follow-up after surgical intervention.

Can I eat or drink on the day of the test?

DO NOT eat or drink for 8 hours prior to this test.  You may take small sips of water.

Please do not chew gum or smoke the day of the test.

If you are diabetic and unable to fast, please eat a low-fat diet (like toast, fruit or juice).  No dairy products, carbonated beverages or beverages with caffeine.

Why can’t I eat or drink anything before this exam?

When you eat, drink, or even chew gum, you swallow air into the stomach and bowel.  Excess air in the bowel reduces ultrasound visibility of the renal arteries.  Fasting before the exam helps to minimize interference from bowel.

Should I take my medications the day of the test?

Take all of your medications at the usual times, as prescribed by your doctor.  Small sips of water are okay.

What happens during the test?

  • A vascular sonographer will perform the ultrasound exam of your renal arteries.
  • The sonographer will ask you to lie on your back on an exam table. You will be asked to raise your shirt halfway up your torso and to move your pants down to the tops of your hips.  The sonographer will move a transducer around your abdomen to obtain images.  The transducer will have a small amount of gel on the end of it. The gel used during the exam is water-soluble and easily washes off with soap and water.
  • The sonographer may ask you to hold your breath at times or roll onto your side during the exam.

How will I feel during the test?

You should feel no significant discomfort during this test. You will feel the pressure of the transducer on your abdomen.

How long does the test take?

This exam usually takes between 45-60 minutes, depending on many variables. After the test, you may go home or go to your other scheduled appointments.

How do I get the results of my test?

After a vascular surgeon has interpreted your exam, the results will be sent to your referring physician and/or the vascular surgeon will go over the results with you during a follow-up appointment.