Renal Scan: Nuclear Medicine

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A renal scan is a test that takes pictures of the child's kidneys and shows how they are working. This is test is done in the Nuclear (NU klee ar) Medicine Department, which is part of the X-ray department.

How to Prepare for the Test

  • Explain the test to your child in a way he or she will understand.
  • Your child should have lots of liquids on the day before the test.
  • Your child may have food while he or she is waiting to have the test, unless the doctor says no. Babies may have a bottle.
  • A parent may stay with the child during the test.
  • Your child may bring a favorite video to watch. Sometimes a TV is available for the child to watch videotapes during the test.

How the Test Is Done

Patient having a renal scan

  • In the Nuclear Medicine Department, your child will lie on his back on a padded table. Most children under 8 years of age must be helped to hold still. This is done using a “papoose board.”
  • The child lies on the “papoose board” and wide cloth straps are placed over the chest, stomach and legs (Picture 1). This does not hurt, but it holds the child very still for the pictures and keeps him or her from falling off the table.
  • Your child will be catheterized (have a tube put in the bladder) for this test. This is done to keep the bladder empty of urine so the function of the kidneys can be seen on the screen (Picture 2). The genital area will be cleaned with a cleansing cloth and cotton balls moistened with soap.
  • A numbing lotion, called Lidocaine gel, will be put on the area where urine comes out. For boys a small amount is squirted into the tip of the penis. This will not hurt. The gel will make your child more comfortable when the
    catheter is placed. It will also reduce any burning the child may have when urinating after the catheter comes out.
  • The tip of a soft plastic tube will be put into the child's bladder. This may hurt a little when the tube goes in. It will be left in place until the scans are done.

the urinary system inside the body
  • Your child will have an IV (intravenous) started. This will hurt a little. Next an injection will be given through the IV. This is a very small amount of radioactive material. It has been measured and is safe. The IV will be taken out when the exam is over.
  • Next your child will be placed in the middle of a big donut-shaped camera. The camera will not touch or hurt your child.
  • After that, several pictures will be taken. Your child must hold very still. The test will take at least 2 hours. When the test is over, the technologist will remove the catheter.

After the Test

  • After the test, your child may eat his usual foods and return to normal activity.
  • It takes about 1 or 2 days for the test results to be completed. When the results of the test are ready, the doctor who ordered the scan will discuss with you the plan for medical care.
If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor or nurse, or call the Nuclear Medicine Department at (614) 722-2336.

Renal Scan: Nuclear Medicine (PDF) 

HH-III-47 9/85, Revised 2/16 Copyright 1985, Nationwide Children’s Hospital