Intravenous urogram (IVU)

This page explains about intravenous urogram (IVU) scans, what is involved and what to expect when your child comes to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to have one. Intravenous urogram scans are also referred to as intravenous pyelogram (IVP) scans.

What is an intravenous urogram (IVU)?

An intravenous urogram looks at your child’s urinary system and how it is working. An IVU may be suggested to look closely at the drainage system inside your child’s kidney and how it is working so the doctors can plan any treatment needed. Contrast material, a liquid that shows up well on x-rays, is injected into a vein. It then travels to the kidneys and is removed through peeing (urinating).

Are there any alternatives?

Various types of scan such as CT, ultrasound and x-rays can show the size and shape of your child’s urinary system but not how it is working. The results of the scan are used to plan your child’s treatment.

When you receive your appointment letter

If you are unable to keep this appointment, please inform the department at least two weeks beforehand. Sometimes, we can offer the appointment to another child on the waiting list.

As so many children and young people need to use our services, we have had to introduce a policy where if a child cancels or does not attend two appointments in a row, we will close their referral and inform their GOSH consultant.

The day of the scan

Your child should not have breakfast on the day of the scan and should only drink clear fluids, such as weak squash or water until one hour before the scan. Younger children should not eat any food for two to three hours before the scan. Children who are bottle feeding or breast feeding should not be fed for at least an hour before the test. This ensures that the images taken are of good quality.

Please arrive at the Radiology department at the time stated in your child’s appointment letter.

Legally, we are obliged to ask any girls over the age of 12 whether there is any chance they might be pregnant. This is to protect babies in the womb from receiving unnecessary radiation. We will also ask mothers or other female carers if they could be pregnant, especially if they are planning to come into the scanning room with their child. If you are pregnant, we suggest you bring another member of the family with you, to be with your child during the scan instead.

We will put some local anaesthetic cream over the veins in various places, such as your child’s elbow crease, hands or feet, and cover it with a clear film. After about 45 minutes, when the cream has made your child’s skin numb, we will wipe off the cream, insert a butterfly needle into a vein and tape it in place. Your child will need to wear a hospital gown for this test but can keep a vest or t-shirt on underneath. Any metal on their everyday clothing, such as zips or buttons, will show up on the scan, giving a

misleading result.

The scan

You will be able to stay with your child throughout the scan. The doctor will ask your child to lie very still on the bed while a series of pictures are taken. They will then inject the contrast liquid into the bloodstream through the butterfly needle and take some more pictures. Some people feel a ‘warm flush’ and want to pee during the injection. This is normal. As the contrast liquid travels through the bloodstream to the kidneys, further pictures will be taken. Sometimes we ask your child to wear a compression belt around their middle as this helps keep the contrast in the kidneys long enough to take a series of pictures. You and your child will be able to see the pictures on the screen by the bed. The scan usually takes 20 to 30 minutes but may be longer, depending on how quickly the contrast liquid travels to your child’s kidneys.

After the scan

When enough pictures have been taken, your child will be able to get off the bed and get dressed. If they are not having any further tests or scans, you will be free to go home. The radiology doctor will send a report about the scan to your child’s doctor.

Are there any risks?

The contrast liquid will not interfere with any medicines your child is taking. While x-rays use radiation, we make every attempt to keep the dose as low as possible while still getting the best possible pictures to plan treatment.

Compiled by:
The Radiology team in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group This information does not constitute health or medical advice and will not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals.
Last review date:
October 2016