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CT Urogram

Last updated May 23, 2018

A CT Urogram radiology procedure uses X-rays (that rotate around an individual) to generate high-quality images specifically of the urinary tract, involving the kidneys, ureters, and urinary bladder.


Background Information:

What are the other Names for the Procedure?

  • Computerized Tomographic Urography
  • CT Urography

What is CT Urogram radiology procedure? (General Explanation)

  • A CT Urogram radiology procedure uses X-rays (that rotate around an individual) to generate high-quality images specifically of the urinary tract, involving the kidneys, ureters, and urinary bladder
  • In this radiology procedure, a contrast agent (administered through an intravenous line) that collects and concentrates in the urinary system, make the urinary tract more visible

What part of the Body does the Procedure involve?

A CT Urogram radiology procedure is focused on the urinary tract and is helpful in evaluating the following organs:

  • Kidneys
  • Ureters: A set of paired tubes that delivers urine from the kidneys to the bladder
  • Urinary bladder (reservoir for urine)

Why is the CT Urogram radiology procedure Performed?

The common indications for performing a CT Urogram include:

  • Kidney stones (renal calculi)
  • Infections
  • Cancer
  • Masses, tumors, or cysts in the urinary tract
  • Structural abnormalities of the urinary tract

What are the Alternative Choices for the Procedure?

Some possible alternative choices for a CT Urogram radiology procedure include:

  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
  • MR urogram

What is the Equipment used? (Description of Equipment)

  • CT scanner: It resembles a large box with a cylinder-shaped opening. It is attacked to a specialized examination table that slides in and out of the cylinder
  • The specialized X-ray tubes are positioned around the unit and may rotate as images are being captured

What are the Recent Advances in the Procedure?

There are no recent advances to a CT Urogram radiology procedure.

What is the Cost of performing the CT Urogram radiology procedure?

The cost of a CT Urogram procedure depends on a variety of factors, such as the type of your health insurance, annual deductibles, co-pay requirements, out-of-network and in-network of your healthcare providers and healthcare facilities.

In many cases, an estimate may be provided before the procedure. The final amount depends upon the findings during the procedure and post-operative care that is necessary.

When do you need a Second Opinion, prior to the Procedure?

  • It is normal for a patient to feel uncomfortable and confused with a sudden inflow of information regarding a CT Urogram procedure and what needs to be done
  • If the patient needs further reassurance or a second opinion, a physician will almost always assist in recommending another physician
  • Also, if the procedure involves multiple steps or has many alternatives, the patient may take a second opinion to understand and choose the best one. They can also choose to approach another physician independently

What are some Helpful Resources?

Silverman SG, Leyendecker JR, Amis ES. What is the current role of CT urography and MR urography in the evaluation of the urinary tract? Radiology. 2009;250(2):309-323. http://pubs.rsna.org/doi/full/10.1148/radiol.2502080534. Accessed Feb 7, 2017. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2502080534.

Prior to CT Urogram radiology procedure:

How does the CT Urogram radiology procedure work?

A CT scan works on nearly the same principles as an X-ray scanning technique.

  • X-rays, produced by a machine, either pass through or are deflected by parts of the body
  • If most of the X-rays pass through a structure, it appears black (such as air-filled lungs)
  • If a majority of the X-rays are deflected, it appears white (as in bones)
  • Many structures (tissues usually) will appear in shades of grey
  • Using multiple X-ray units that rotate around the patient, a computer program generates high-quality cross-sectional images (as if viewing multiple slices of a loaf of bread)

In a CT Urogram, a contrast agent is administered that helps to define and identify/outline the urinary tract.

How is the CT Urogram radiology procedure Performed?

The CT Urogram procedure is performed in the following manner:

  • The individual is positioned on the examination table
  • An intravenous (IV) line is placed in a vein of the hand/arm, to administer the contrast agent.
  • Following administration of the contrast, the CT scanner begins taking images
  • The scanner may rotate around the body, as it captures images of various parts of the body
  • A computer reconstructs the data into images, which is then reviewed by a radiologist

Where is the Procedure Performed?

A CT Urogram radiology procedure is typically performed as an outpatient procedure at a hospital.

Who Performs the Procedure?

A CT Urogram procedure is usually performed by a radiology technologist under the supervision of a radiologist.

How long will the Procedure take?

The duration of the study may vary, but in general, the examination should take less than 30 minutes.

Who interprets the Result?

A radiologist reviews the images and discusses the results with the healthcare provider, who in turn conveys the study results to the patient.

What Preparations are needed, prior to the Procedure?

The following preparations are needed prior to a CT Urogram procedure:

  • The physician may evaluate the individual’s medical history to gain a comprehensive knowledge of the overall health status of the patient, including information related to the medications that are currently being taken
  • Do inform the medical professional if you have a history of any medical conditions, such as a heart disease, asthma, diabetes, or kidney disease
  • Patients should inform their physician, if they are allergic to any medication (including to the contrast agent used in the procedure)
  • Women should inform their physicians if they are breastfeeding, pregnant, or if there is a chance that they might be pregnant
  • The patient may be asked to avoid eating or drinking several hours before the test

What is the Consent Process before the Procedure?

A physician will request your consent for the CT Urogram procedure using an Informed Consent Form.

Consent for the procedure: A “consent” is your approval to undergo a procedure. A consent form is signed after the risks and benefits of the procedure, and alternative treatment options, are discussed. This process is called informed consent.

You must sign the forms only after you are totally satisfied by the answers to your questions. In case of minors and individuals unable to personally give their consent, the individual’s legal guardian or next of kin, shall give their consent for the procedure.

What are the Benefits versus Risks, for this Procedure?

Following are the benefits of the procedure:

  • It is a non-invasive imaging technique
  • It is safe and effective for identifying abnormalities in the urinary tract
  • It is a relatively quick procedure

Following are the risks of the procedure:

  • As with any exam that uses ionizing radiation there is a very small risk of developing cancer with repeated exposure
  • In rare cases, allergic reactions to the iodinated contrast agent may occur

What are the Limitations of the CT Urogram radiology procedure?

Some limitations of a CT Urogram radiology procedure include:

  • Very small masses, areas of narrowing, or abnormalities, may be missed
  • Foreign bodies, such as stents or metallic objects from prior surgeries, may interfere with interpretation of the images

What are some Questions for your Physician?

Some of the basic questions that you might ask your healthcare provider or physician are as follows:

  • What is CT Urogram procedure?
  • Why is this procedure necessary? How will it help?
  • How soon should I get it done? Is it an emergency?
  • Who are the medical personnel involved in this procedure?
  • Where is the procedure performed?
  • What are the risks while performing the procedure?
  • What are the complications that might take place during recovery?
  • What are the possible side effects from the procedure? How can I minimize these side effects?
  • How long will it take to recover? When can I resume normal work?
  • How many such procedures have you (the physician) performed?
  • Are there any lifestyle restrictions or modifications required, after the procedure is performed?
  • Are there any follow-up tests, periodic visits to the healthcare facility required, after the procedure?
  • What are the costs involved?

During the CT Urogram radiology procedure:

What is expected during the CT Urogram radiology procedure?

  • A CT Urogram is relatively painless
  • One may feel mild pain or discomfort during intravenous administration of the contrast
  • The contrast agent may give a warm sensation when administered

What kind of Anesthesia is given, during the Procedure?

No anesthesia is given during a CT Urogram radiology procedure.

What are the possible Risks and Complications during the CT Urogram radiology procedure?

The risk of a CT Urogram is minimal.

  • Rarely, allergic reactions to the contrast material can occur
  • As with any examination that uses X-rays, there is a very small risk of developing cancer with excessive and repeated radiation exposure

What Post-Operative Care is needed at the Healthcare Facility after the CT Urogram?

No additional care is need at the healthcare facility following the radiology procedure.

After the CT Urogram radiology procedure:

What is to be expected after the CT Urogram radiology procedure?

Generally, there are no compilations or side effects associated with a CT Urogram radiology procedure. In some cases, one may have some mild bruising at the IV insertion site.

When do you need to call your Physician?

A CT Urogram radiology procedure (without contrast) is an uncomplicated procedure and carries minimal risk to majority of the individuals.

  • If a contrast agent is used; rarely, an allergic reaction can take place
  • Usually, these reactions occur within 30 minutes of exposure to the contrast agent
  • If signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction are observed, the attending physician must be immediately informed

What Post-Operative Care is needed at Home after the CT Urogram radiology procedure?

No post-operative care is needed following a CT Urogram radiology procedure.

How long does it normally take to fully recover, from the Procedure?

No recovery time is needed following a CT Urogram radiology procedure.

Additional Information:

What happens to tissue (if any), taken out during the Procedure?

The CT Urogram radiology procedure does not involve the removal of any body tissue.

When should you expect results from the pathologist regarding tissue taken out during the Procedure?

Since no tissue is removed during the procedure, a pathologist does not get involved in the care of the patient. 

Who will you receive a Bill from, after the CT Urogram radiology procedure?

It is important to note that the number of bills that the patient may receive depends on the arrangement the healthcare facility has with the physician and other healthcare providers. 

Sometimes, the patient may get a single bill that includes the healthcare facility and the consultant physician charges. Sometimes, the patient might get multiple bills depending on the healthcare provider involved. For instance, the patient may get a bill from:

  • The hospital, where the procedure is performed
  • Healthcare providers, physicians, and radiologists, who are involved in the process

The patient is advised to inquire and confirm the type of billing, before the CT Urogram procedure is performed.

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: March 27, 2017
Last updated: May 23, 2018