renal ultrasound

Last reviewed 01/2018

Ultrasound is a valuable tool in renal medicine.

Renal ultrasound may be used to measure:

  • kidney size
  • dilatation of the renal pelvis or ureters
  • residual volumes of urine the post micturition bladder
  • renal calculi in the renal pelvis or bladder
  • cysts or masses in the renal parenchyma
  • the prostate - using a rectal probe

The limitations of ultrasound in renal medicine must be remembered:

  • it is operator dependant
  • it cannot visualise the full length of the ureter
  • the resolution is not sufficient to demonstrate pelvicalyceal abnormalities such as papillary necrosis

Indications for renal ultrasound in CKD (1)

Offer a renal ultrasound scan to all people with CKD who:

  • have accelerated progression of CKD
  • have visible or persistent invisible haematuria
  • have symptoms of urinary tract obstruction
  • have a family history of polycystic kidney disease and are aged over 20 years
  • have a GFR of less than 30 ml/min/1.73 m2 (GFR category G4 or G5)
  • are considered by a nephrologist to require a renal biopsy

Advise people with a family history of inherited kidney disease about the implications of an abnormal result before a renal ultrasound scan is arranged for them