Which imaging studies are used in the diagnosis of chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

Updated: Jul 21, 2021
  • Author: Pradeep Arora, MD; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Imaging studies that can be used in the diagnosis of CKD include the following:

  • Renal ultrasonography: Useful to screen for hydronephrosis, which may not be observed in early obstruction or dehydrated patients; or for involvement of the retroperitoneum with fibrosis, tumor, or diffuse adenopathy; small, echogenic kidneys are observed in advanced renal failure

  • Retrograde pyelography: Useful in cases with high suspicion for obstruction despite negative renal ultrasonograms, as well as for diagnosing renal stones

  • Computed tomography (CT) scanning: Useful to better define renal masses and cysts usually noted on ultrasonograms; also the most sensitive test for identifying renal stones

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Useful in patients who require a CT scan but who cannot receive intravenous contrast; reliable in the diagnosis of renal vein thrombosis

  • Renal radionuclide scanning: Useful to screen for renal artery stenosis when performed with captopril administration; also quantitates the renal contribution to the GFR

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