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Why do doctors perform ultrasounds on the kidneys?

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Quick Answer

Doctors perform ultrasounds on kidneys to determine the size, shape and location of the organs, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. These scans may reveal abnormalities such as tumors, cysts, obstructions, abscesses and fluid buildup.

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Why do doctors perform ultrasounds on the kidneys?
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Full Answer

Kidney ultrasounds help doctors to place needles during medical procedures such as biopsies and fluid drains, notes Johns Hopkins Medicine. During a biopsy, doctors must place needles to collect tissue samples from the organ. They must be able to see how needles drain fluids from cysts and abscesses located on the kidney. Ultrasounds may be used to assess a new kidney after transplant surgery. These types of scans can monitor blood flow through and around the organs via renal arteries and veins.

Kidney ultrasounds can detect nearby structures such as the ureters and bladder to assess these passages that lead away from the kidneys, says Johns Hopkins Medicine. Kidney stones are viewable in the ureter and bladder with an ultrasound scan.

A kidney ultrasound is a noninvasive procedure that produces images of the organs and surrounding tissue, notes Johns Hopkins Medicine. A transducer is placed on the skin near the kidney, and ultrasound waves bounce off the organ while a computer interprets the sound waves to make an image. A Doppler ultrasound can assess blood flow to and from the kidneys using audible sound waves. Other scans that can give doctors views of the kidneys include x-ray, computed tomography, antegrade pyelogram and a kidney angiogram.

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