Renal Arteries

Why am I having this ultrasound examination?

The renal artery ultrasound is a non-invasive method of checking the arteries that supply blood to your kidneys. Your doctor has requested this examination because you may have one or more of the following presentations:

  • high blood pressure that has been difficult to control with routine medication
  • deterioration in the function of your kidneys
  • an abnormal blood test
  • previously diagnosed narrowing (stenosis) or blockage in one or both renal arteries
  • previous surgical or endovascular treatment for renal artery

What veins will be checked in this examination?

  • Renal Artery
  • Superior Mesenteric Artery
  • Aorta
  • Kidney

What happens during the examination?

Because the arteries in your abdomen lie underneath the large intestine (bowel), dietary preparation is required for this examination. The purpose of this is to reduce gases that form in the bowel and which can interfere with adequate ultrasound penetration. This preparation will be explained to you in more detail when you are making your appointment and will vary depending on whether or not you have diabetes. You will also be asked to drink 500mL water one hour before the scan to improve blood flow to the kidneys, however there is no need for you to have a full bladder.

The renal artery ultrasound scan is performed with you lying on an examination couch so you should be quite comfortable. In order for the sonographer to easily access the abdominal arteries, you will be asked to remove your footwear, and the outer clothing from your waist down. It is helpful if you do not wear tight underclothing, such as ‘step-ins’ or corsets. The sonographer will ask you for a short medical history, including what blood pressure medications you may be taking. Gel will be placed on your skin and you will feel the firm pressure from the transducer as it runs along the course of the blood vessels, but there should be no major discomfort. You may be required to roll a little from side to side, so better views of the arteries can be obtained. If you do have any questions or concerns, please ask at any time throughout the test.

How long does the examination take?

Scanning of the renal arteries may take up to 45 minutes.

When will I get my results?

The sonographer does not usually give you your results at the time of your examination, however your doctor will receive your scan results within 2 days. If you have an appointment already booked with your referring doctor, please advise the sonographer at the time of your scan. Urgent results are always sent back to your doctor within 24 hours.

Download the Patient Information Brochure