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Renal Scintigraphy


Renal scintigraphy is an imaging test that uses a radioactive medicine and a camera to take pictures of your kidneys. The pictures show the shape of your kidneys and how they are working. This test may be used to find out how a transplanted kidney is working. It may also show blood flow problems in your kidneys that may be causing your high blood pressure or problems when you urinate. You may also need this test if your blood or urine tests show that your kidneys are not working properly. Your healthcare provider will use these test results to learn about your condition and decide the best way to treat you.


The night before and day of your test:

  • Informed consent 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.
  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your test.
  • You may need to stop eating at least 4 hours before your test. Food may affect the kidney test results. Ask your healthcare provider if and when you should stop eating.
  • You will need to be well hydrated for the kidney test to work. You may need to drink 2 to 3 glasses of water before the test, or as directed. You may need to empty your bladder right before the test. Your healthcare provider may need to insert a catheter to drain your urine. A full bladder can cause the test to take longer and may affect the results. A catheter can help your healthcare provider find any blockages in your urinary tracts.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids. You will receive this if you have not already.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you are breastfeeding. The radioactive medicine used in this test may get into your breast milk and this can be dangerous to your baby.

During your test:

Your healthcare provider may tell you to lie on your back or sit up straight. Then, he will inject a radioactive medicine into your IV to help your kidneys show up better in the pictures. The radioactive medicine also shows how your kidneys function. Your healthcare provider may take the pictures right after he injects the radioactive medicine, or he may need to wait. It could take up to 2 hours for the radioactive medicine to filter through your kidneys. Your healthcare provider may give you blood pressure medicine orally or in your IV before the test begins. Using these medicines during the test will show him any blood flow problems in your kidneys. Your healthcare provider will measure your blood pressure often after you receive this medicine.

Your healthcare provider may take several pictures of your kidneys or only a few. You will need to lie still while your healthcare provider takes the pictures. You may be asked to change your position for certain pictures. This test can take 45 minutes to a few hours.

After your test:

  • Wait until your healthcare provider says you may leave. You may be taken back to a hospital room if you need to stay longer.
  • Drink plenty of water and empty your bladder frequently to help flush the radioactive medicine out of your body. Some of the radioactive medicine will leave your body through your urine, bowel movement, or other body fluids. It may take several hours or up to 8 days to leave your body completely. It is okay to use a toilet as you normally would.
  • If you are breastfeeding, you will need to pump and throw away your breast milk for 2 to 3 days after your test, or as directed. You may continue breastfeeding when your healthcare provider says it is okay.


You may have an allergic reaction to the radioactive medicine used for this test. This may include a rash, hives, cough, itchiness, trouble breathing, and throat swelling. Side effects from the radioactive medicine may start immediately and can last for several days. Side effects include vomiting, chills, nausea, headache, dizziness, or a fast heartbeat. You may notice increases in your blood pressure if you monitor it at home. You may also have pain, bruising, or redness where the IV was placed. There is a very small risk of cancer from the radioactive medicine used during the test. Talk to your healthcare provider about these risks.


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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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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.