Font Size

Intravenous Pyelogram Procedure

What is an intravenous pyelogram (IVP)?

Intravenous pyelography refers to a series of X-rays taken of the kidneys, their collecting or drainage system (the ureters), and the bladder. The ureters are the small tubelike structures that connect the kidneys to the bladder.

  • An intravenous pyelogram (IVP) may be performed to detect a problem of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder. Most often, the IVP is done to locate a suspected obstruction to the flow of urine through the collecting system. The most common cause of blockage is a kidney stone. The IVP test also gives information about the functioning of the kidneys.
  • In an IVP test, dye is injected via a catheter inserted in a person's vein, usually on the hand or the forearm. X-rays are then taken to follow the track of the dye through the system.

What are the risks of intravenous pyelogram?

The dyes (also called radio contrast media) are of 2 types: ionic and nonionic. Both types of dye contain iodine but differ in 2 key ways: the rate of adverse reactions and the cost.

Although the overall rate of adverse reactions is relatively low with both, there is a greater incidence of adverse reactions with the less expensive ionic dye than with the nonionic.

  • Minor reactions, which are infrequent and do not last long, include flushing, nausea, vomiting, and itching.
  • A small percentage of people experience a severe reaction to the dye, such as difficulty breathing, speaking, or swallowing; swelling of the lips and tongue; low blood pressure; or loss of consciousness. People who have had a severe reaction after receiving the dye once should not be exposed to it again.
  • Pregnant women should not have an IVP because of the risk of radiation exposure to the unborn baby.
  • People with known kidney disease or failure should not have an IVP because the dye can worsen kidney function.
  • Elderly people and those with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or evidence of dehydration are at risk of developing kidney failure following administration of the dye.
    • To avoid this complication, the kidney function should be tested with a blood test for creatinine, and the results should be known before the IVP is performed.
    • Those with diabetes who are taking metformin (Glucophage) will have to discontinue this medication prior to and for 2 days after the IVP. They should inform their doctor of the test, and the doctor will coordinate their management during that time.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2017
Medical Author:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

Must Read Articles Related to Intravenous Pyelogram

Kidney Stones
Kidney Stones The kidney filters waste products and excess water from the body. Sometimes, because of factors that include heredity, learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Intravenous Pyelogram:

Intravenous Pyelogram - Patient Experience

Was your kidney condition diagnosed through a intravenous pyelogram? Please describe your experience.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Neuroblastoma »

Neuroblastoma is the most common extracranial pediatric neoplasm and the third most common pediatric malignancy after leukemia and central nervous system (CNS) tumors.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary