Considering that the vast majority of urinary stones are radiopaque (visible through x-rays), radiology is a very useful diagnostic tool in urology, which offers the following exams:
Excretory urography (Intra-Venous Pyelogram – IVP): Radiological examination that utilizes iodinated contrast, administered intravenously. The contrast highlights the entire path from the kidneys to the bladder. This allows the obtainment of a sequence of images of the kidneys inside, the ureters and the bladder. This is an excellent exam for assessing stones located in the ureter; that is, between the kidney and bladder. It also provides information on renal function since the contrast needs to be filtered, secreted and excreted by the kidneys with the urine. Therefore the duration may vary from 30 minutes to several hours. Since the urinary tract is behind the intestines, this requires bowel cleansing the day before, using laxative medication.
Voiding urethrocystography: For this examination, a mixture of saline solution and a radiopaque contrast is administered into the bladder through a urinary catheterization, until the patient manifests a desire to urinate, at which time, the urethral probe is removed and the patient is allowed to urinate freely, while some images are obtained. This examination allows for the detection of urinary reflux and anatomical changes of the bladder and the urethra.
Abdomen X-Ray: This is a simple exam, which aims to identify radiopaque (stone) images over the urinary tract (the kidneys, the ureters and the bladder).
An intestinal preparation is required the day before the exam.