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Renal Perfusion Scintiscan

What is it?

A renal perfusion (per-FU-zhun) scintiscan (SIN-tih-scan) is a test to look at your kidneys and how blood flows to each kidney. Renal is another word for kidney. The job of the kidneys is to make urine from body wastes. This test is also called renal perfusion scintigraphy (sin-TIG-rah-fee), and radionuclide (ray-dee-oh-NOO-kleyed) renal perfusion scan. A renal perfusion scintiscan is often done before another test called a renogram. Ask your caregiver for more information if you are also scheduled to have a renogram.

Why do I need a renal scintiscan?

The scan can show if the arteries that supply blood to the kidneys have become too narrow. Renal arteries are too narrow can cause high blood pressure and kidney problems. This condition is called renal artery stenosis (ste-NOH-sis).

Who should not have a renal perfusion scintiscan?

Tell your caregiver before the test if you might be or are pregnant. Caregivers may suggest waiting to have the test until after your baby is born. Tell caregivers if you are breast feeding. They may suggest waiting to have the test until after you have finished breast feeding your baby. This should be done to prevent your baby from getting any of the radioactive tracer. Tell caregivers if you have other problems with your kidneys. Having other kidney conditions may change the results of this test.

What should I do to get ready for the renal perfusion scintiscan?

Drink plenty of water before the scan. You need to be well hydrated (have enough body fluids) for this test. Tell your caregiver if you take an ACE inhibitor medicine for high blood pressure. You may be told to stop taking the medicine before the test. Otherwise, you do not have to do anything to prepare for the scan. You may eat, drink fluids, and take any medicines that you take regularly before this test.

Informed consent:

A consent form is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

How is a renal perfusion scintiscan performed?

  • Your caregiver will tell you what time to come to the Nuclear (NU-klee-ar) Medicine department where the scan is performed. You must remove jewelry and other metal objects, and put on a hospital gown. An IV (intravenous line) will be placed into a vein, probably in your hand or arm. A medicine called an ACE inhibitor may be given in your IV. You may be given this medicine as a pill instead of through your IV. This medicine is usually used to treat high blood pressure. It may be used during the scan to help find out if you have renal artery stenosis.
  • You will lie down on a table. A small amount of a solution containing a radioactive tracer is put into the IV. Caregivers use a special camera to take pictures of your kidneys. The scan takes about 30 minutes. The tracer solution will flow through the renal arteries into your kidneys. Diuretic (deye-yoo-RET-ik) medicine is put into your IV about 10 minutes after the tracer solution. This medicine may make you urinate more than usual.

What will I feel during the scan?

You may feel some discomfort when the IV is put in your vein. The scan itself is not painful, but some people are uncomfortable lying still during the scan. If you need to, ask your caregiver about taking medicine to help you lie still. You may be uncomfortable as your bladder fills with urine during the test. Try to lie still and wait until after the test to urinate. Tell your caregiver if you have to urinate during the test.

What should I do after the scan?

The tracer leaves your body quickly through your urine. You may continue activities, eat, drink, and take your usual medicines as you did before the test. Drink plenty of fluids, such as water and juices to help flush the tracer out of your body.


Rarely, you may develop a rash, swelling, or have a serious allergic (al-ER-jik) reaction to the injection. The place where your IV was could bleed, become red, swollen, painful or infected. Ask your caregiver if there is any risk when taking the ACE inhibitor or diuretic medicine. If you do not have a renal scan, caregivers may not be able to decide the best way to treat you. Your condition could get worse, or you could die. Talk to your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your medicine or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.