Nuclear medicine kidney scans (sometimes called renal scintigraphy) use small amounts of radioactive materials called radiopharmaceuticals, a special camera and a computer to evaluate your kidneys’ function and anatomy and determine whether they are working properly. It can provide unique information that is often unattainable using other imaging procedures.
The kidneys work to filter the blood to remove waste materials such as urea and salt. The body excretes these waste fluids as urine. The fluid is drained in the kidneys and empties through the ureters which connect the kidneys to the bladder.
In a nuclear medicine kidney scan, images are made of the delivery of fluid into the kidneys via the bloodstream, concentration of wastes in the kidney and excretion or flow from the kidneys through the ureters and filling of the bladder.
A nuclear medicine renal scan can be performed with two different radiopharmaceuticals – DMSA or MAG3.
A nuclear medicine kidney scan is often used to evaluate:
- renal tubular function and blood flow (how the body fluids circulate through the kidneys);
- renovascular hypertension (high blood pressure in the arteries of the kidneys);
- renal artery stenosis (narrowing of the arteries that take blood to the kidneys);
- kidney obstruction and trauma or damage (blockage or interruption of the ureters);
- renal transplant perfusion and function;
- scarring of the kidneys after urinary infections.