Nephrostogram studies

A nephrostogram study looks at your child’s nephrostomy tube, which drains urine from the kidney into a special bag. It uses contrast liquid, which shows up well on x-rays, inserted into the nephrostomy. This page from Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) explains about nephrostogram studies, what is involved and what to expect when your child has one. 

A nephrostogram is usually suggested to check the position of the nephrostomy tube, confirm that it working properly and learn more about the drainage system inside your child’s kidney. Most nephrostogram studies are carried out while your child is staying at GOSH.

Are there any alternatives?

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

The day of the study

A member of ward staff will bring your child down to the Radiology department for the study. 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 study, giving a misleading result.

Many of the studies we perform involve the use of x-rays. Legally, we are obliged to ask any girls over the age of 12 whether there is any chance they might be pregnant. We may ask for a urine or blood sample to carry out a pregnancy test. 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 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 study instead.

The study

You will be able to stay with your child throughout the study. Your child will need to lie on the bed and uncover the nephrostomy by taking off the bag and peeling away the dressing. The doctor will inject some contrast liquid gently through the nephrostomy tube.

After the contrast liquid has been injected, a series of pictures will be taken while it flows through your child’s kidney. You and your child will be able to see the pictures on a screen by the bed. The study usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

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.

After the study

When enough pictures have been taken, your child will be able to get off the bed and get dressed. You will need to put on a new nephrostomy bag.

If they are not having any further tests or studies, you will be free to go back to the ward or to home. The radiology doctor will send a report about the study to your child’s doctor.

Compiled by:
The Radiology department 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:
August 2019