The Foundation for IgA Nephropathy
Most people who are suspected of having kidney disease will have a kidney ultrasound at some point. There isn't much to it. It's just like any other ultrasound, except it concentrates on the kidneys. What can they tell from it? Well, it's not a replacement for a kidney biopsy, but it's an important test to rule out structural problems with the kidneys and/or urinary tract. It provides your doctor with information about the size of your kidneys, possible obstructions, and it can show if there is any significant scarring. It can also be useful prior to deciding on whether to order a kidney biopsy, as, if it shows the kidneys are shrunken and severely-scarred, it might not be worth doing a biopsy (because it may be too late for a firm diagnosis at that point anyway, and it might not be worth taking the risk of causing bleeding). An ultrasound might also show a person only has one kidney, in which case your doctor might also decide not to biopsy. This is an easy, painless test. You simply lie on a table and the ultrasound technician move the probe over your torso (front, sides and back). The only discomfort might be from the pressure of the probe being pushing tight against your torso (it can be a little sensitive if it pushes against bone). It only takes about 15-20 minutes.