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What is Retrograde Pyelography?

Male Urinary Tract
Male Urinary Tract
Medical Illustration Copyright © 2015 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved

Female Urinary Tract
Female Urinary Tract
Medical Illustration Copyright © 2015 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved

Retrograde pyelography is a form of x-ray used to get detailed pictures of the ureters and kidneys.

Retrograde pyelography uses a special dye ("contrast agent") injected into the ureters. The dye makes the ureters and kidneys more easily seen on the x-ray. This test is like an intravenous pyelogram (IVP). But with IVP, the dye is injected into a vein instead of the ureter.

Newer tests have mostly replaced retrograde pyelography. But, retrograde pyelography can sometimes show better detail in the upper urinary tract. Retrograde pyelography is used when IVP doesn’t give a very good picture. It’s also useful along with cystoscopy to check for a cause of hematuria, like cancer.

What is the Upper Urinary Tract?

The upper urinary tract includes the kidneys and ureters.

The kidneys are 2 bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They’re found in your back on either side of the spine. Healthy kidneys clean waste products from the blood by making urine. The urine flows down two, 10 to 12-inch-long tubes called ureters, into the bladder.

The bladder can distend to hold urine until you’re ready to drain it. The tube that carries the urine from the bladder out of the body is called the urethra.