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What is CT urography?

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A computerized tomography urogram is a diagnostic test that uses X-ray beams to produce detailed two-dimensional images of the urinary tract, Mayo Clinic states. The patient receives an injection of contrast dye to highlight the structure of the bladder, kidneys and urinary tubes, known as ureters, as well as surrounding blood vessels and tissues. The procedure allows doctors to see an organ's size and shape to evaluate signs of infection or disease, such as kidney stones, tumors or bladder stones.

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CT urography is a common imaging technique for diagnosing urinary tract cancers and causes of blood in urine, known as hematuria, according to RadiologyInfo.org. Depending on the type of exam, the patient may have to drink water in advance and delay urinating to make the bladder expand. The patient typically rests on a table inside of a tunnel-shaped scanner, and a rotating X-ray emitter directs beams at the body. The machine's detectors measure how different body areas absorb X-rays, and the computer generates cross-sectional images based on these distinct patterns.

CT urography is a fast, painless and noninvasive procedure, making it beneficial for diagnosing injuries in emergencies or accommodating patients who cannot stay still for lengthy periods, RadiologyInfo.org explains. CT imaging is also safer than magnetic resonance imaging for patients who have implanted devices, and the exposure to X-ray radiation is minimal.

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