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Urology Care Foundation The Official Foundation of the American Urological Association


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Urologic Radiology

Science has given urologists a bevy of tools to probe the most private parts of the body in diagnosing urinary and renal disease. Every modern imaging technology, from conventional X-rays to radionuclide imaging, has found its way into urologic radiology's arsenal. The good news for physicians is that they have many options to explore the kidneys, ureters, bladder and surrounding structures. The better news for patients is that today's tests are thorough, relatively pain-free and often quick. But would you know what your doctor means when he or she talks of "retrograde pyelography" or "radionuclide scans?" The information below should give you the basics.

What is intravenous pyelography (IVP)?

Intravenous pyelography (IVP) is the most common of all urologic studies. It is a test that uses contrast dye to outline the kidneys, ureters and bladder and provides information about renal function on an X-ray. The dye is administered through a vein. A urologist is likely to order this test if a patient complains of flank pain, blood in the urine (hematuria) or any stone-related symptoms. It may also be utilized as a screening test to prompt your urologist to obtain another imaging test for further information.

A preliminary film of the abdomen and pelvis is a basic part of this examination and this is usually done without contrast dye. This helps the radiologist determine the proper radiographic technique and patient positioning. A single film of the abdomen that includes the pubic bone may suffice in some patients, whereas in others, an additional film is focused on the kidneys. A full set of specific kidney films may be of value in a patient suspected of having small kidney stones. Contrast dye is then given as a single injection into the patient. The amount of contrast dye given is determined by the patient's kidney function and body weight. More contrast dye may be necessary for patients with obesity or large amounts of stool in the bowel. In children, weight and age are important factors in determining the amount of contrast dye. After the contrast dye is in the urinary tract, a series of X-rays are taken at specific time intervals, from two to 10 minutes. These X-rays will show any tumors, cysts, stones or other structural and functional abnormalities.

The primary risk of IVP is a reaction to the contrast dye. The overall incidence rate for reactions ranges from three to 13 percent. Minor reactions include hot flashes, nausea and vomiting. These are usually treated successfully with antihistamines, drugs that reduce the effects of the body's inflammatory compound, histamine. In very rare circumstances, more severe complications — breathing difficulties, low blood pressure, swelling of the mouth or throat and even cardiac arrest — can occur. Statistics estimate major reactions in one in 200 to one in 2,000 patients.

Patients with certain health factors — a history of hay fever, asthma or hives — are at greater risk as are those with congestive heart failure, diabetes and a prior reaction. Administering antihistamines or steroids prior to the exam may prevent any reactions. Also, nonionic contrast agents that have been recently developed have lowered the incidence of adverse reactions.

What is retrograde pyelography?

Like IVP, retrograde pyelography relies on contrast medium to produce detailed X-ray pictures of the urinary tract. While newer diagnostic technologies have replaced this test for many functions, retrograde pyelography may still yield better definition of the upper urinary tract, particularly the ureter and kidney collecting system. Commonly performed when IVP produces an inadequate picture, it also complements cystoscopy while investigating a patient with hematuria or recurrent or suspected cancer.

After administration of anesthesia, the doctor, cystopically, will insert a catheter through the patient's urethra and into the bladder and then into the ureter so contrast dye can be injected. Once the contrast dye is distributed through the ureters and kidney, the doctor employs a fluoroscope to magnify details with the use of X-ray on a special florescent screen. This technique produces definitive images of stones and tumors thus allowing easy diagnosis of obstructions in the urinary system without relying on the ability of the kidneys to excrete the contrast media.

While pyelography is considered generally safe, with rare incidence of reaction t o the contrast dye since the dye is administered directly into the urinary system and not into the blood stream. There may be additional problems however, with aggravating an existing urinary tract infection or triggering one from the catheterization.

What is a retrograde urethrogram?

Retrograde urethrogram is commonly performed in patients in whom trauma to the penile urethra is suspected or to evaluate urethral disease. A catheter is inserted about two centimeters into the penis. The balloon on the catheter is slightly inflated and contrast dye is injected. Several X-rays are obtained or the use of a fluoroscope to magnify details on a special florescent screen may be employed during the injection of the contrasting dye. In some instances, the catheter is advanced into the bladder, where the bladder is then filled and the catheter is usually removed. The patient is instructed to urinate while several more X-rays are obtained.

What is ultrasonography?

Ultrasonography is the use of high-frequency sound waves to produce real-time images, provides a simple and painless way for urologists to examine the bladder, ureters and lower part of the kidney. Since it is a non-invasive test, it offers many advantages, including flexibility and accurate anatomic information, including dimensions, without contrast agents or radiation.

Because ultrasound produces excellent urinary tract, prostatic and testicular images without radiation or intravenous contrast medium, it is considered a painless, safe and generally risk-free technology.

What is a kidney ultrasound?

A high-frequency handheld transducer sends a sound wave through the body that creates an image from reflected waves that return from the kidney tissue. Multiple images are obtained to assess any pathological conditions. If the doctor wants to assess blood supply, he or she uses Doppler imaging, an ultrasound technique that produces color images from the movement of flowing blood, to detail actual flow through the vessels. This additional test provides excellent motion information not available on a standard sonogram.

What is a prostate ultrasound?

Prostatic ultrasonography is commonly performed in combination with a biopsy if prostate cancer is suspected. Some 70 percent of these malignancies develop in the peripheral or outer zone of the prostate, which lies next to the rectum. As such, a transducer, lubricated to enhance the sound wave's transmission, is inserted into the rectum. The urologist then scans the area in a sagittal and longitudinal plane, noting any asymmetry or abnormal areas indicative of prostate cancer. The gland is then biopsied.

What is a testicular ultrasound?

Testicular ultrasound is used to evaluate almost all abnormalities in the scrotum, the sac containing the testicles. Sonography not only can detect patterns suggesting cancer, but it also determines if the mass is intratesticular, extratesticular, solid or cystic. Color-Doppler imaging has made ultrasonography a highly accurate and specific test for testicular torsion, an obstruction of the blood flow resulting from the testis twisting on its blood supply within the spermatic cord. If not spotted and corrected, it can lead to testicular death.

What is a CT scan?

CT scan is an imaging technique that produces cross-sectional slices of tissue, is a widely regarded tool for evaluating the urinary tract and renal systems. It uses special X-ray equipment to obtain data from different angles of the body and then processes them in a computer to show cross-sectional slices of tissue and organs.

Since CT scans can distinguish between solid and liquid structures, it is extremely valuable in examining the type and extent of kidney tumors or other masses, such as stones, distorting the urinary tract. CT technology, however, is also enhanced by other factors. Intravenous radiopaque injections intensify the images. CT scans have improved speed and accuracy by gathering volumes of continuous kidney and urinary data in seconds with no gaps between images.

Specialized applications of CT can be performed in specific clinical circumstances. For example, three-dimensional reconstructions of the kidney and blood supply may show vascular abnormalities and provide "road maps" for planning surgeries.

CT scanning combines X-rays and computer calculations to produce precisely detailed cross-sectional images of the body. More specifically, very small, controlled beams of X-rays, rotating in a continuous 360-degree motion around the patient, pass through the tissue as an array of detectors measure thousands of X-ray images or profiles. Computer calculations based on those multiple measures produce the detailed pictures reflected on a screen.

CT scans are generally a safe, efficient and effective technology that produce minimal risks.

What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a superior technique that uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to provide remarkably clear pictures. As such, it offers an alternative to patients who react to radiopaque contrast dye. Because of its ability to show soft tissues in exquisite detail, this technology can detect disease and detail blood vessels or other structures. In the kidney system, for example, an MRI can delineate a hollow cyst from a solid mass, producing excellent three-dimensional images of any tumor's shape. In particular, its super sensitivity can help urologists identify and measure the spread of kidney cancer into the renal vein and inferior vena cava, the large vessel that returns deoxygenated blood to the heart. But while useful in evaluating kidney transplant donors, MRI has limited applicability for the urinary tract since the non-specificity of its signals makes it ineffective in detecting calcifications and bladder abnormalities.

MRI is unique among imaging methods because, unlike radiographs (X-rays,), CT scan and even radioisotope studies, it does not use ionizing radiation. Instead, MRI uses a strong magnet, radio waves and computers to create detailed images of the body. More specifically, lying inside a massive hollow magnet, a patient is exposed to short bursts of powerful non-ionizing radio  wave energy, directed at protons, the nuclei of hydrogen or water atoms, in the body. Radio signals generated by first "exciting" and then "relaxing" those protons, are computer-processed to form digital images, reflecting different types of tissue. Typical MRI examinations consist of multiple imaging sequences, each lasting from two to 15 minutes. While these techniques continue to evolve, the beauty of current MRI is that it can be tailored for any clinical question.

For generally healthy individuals, MRI poses no risk. But patients with pacemakers, aneurysm clips, ear implants and metallic pieces in vital body locations cannot be imaged safely.

What is angiography?

Angiography is an X-ray procedure which provides a complete examination of the arterial supply to the kidney, including a view of the aorta and renal arteries as well as mass lesions. In this study, a catheter is used to inject contrast dye into the major blood vessel in the body. Arterial access is usually gained through the right femoral artery. Throughout the dye injection procedure, X-ray images are taken at a rapid rate because the high pressure of the arterial blood flow will cause the dye to disappear quickly.

Complications may include reaction to the contrast dye, bleeding and injury to the artery.

What is venography?

A urologist may call for inferior vein cavography or X-ray imaging of the veins using radiopaque substances if he or she suspects a patient has a clot (thrombosis).

With catheterization of the renal veins, contrast dye is injected and X-ray images are taken within seconds. One impediment for a satisfactory view of the renal veins is that blood flow from the kidney washes out the injected contrast dye. Epinephrine injected prior to the contrast dye may allow better images. Venography is being done less often as more non-invasive methods such as Doppler ultrasonography have been developed.

Complications are rare and usually limited to leakage of blood and contrast dye around the site of the injection. Also, there is the risk of an allergic reaction to the solution.

What is radionuclide imaging?

Also known as nuclear medicine imaging (NMN), radionuclide imaging is an excellent diagnostic tool because it shows not only the anatomy of an organ or body part, but the function of the organ as well. This additional "functional information" allows radionuclide imaging to diagnose certain diseases and various medical conditions much sooner than other medical imaging examinations.

For this test, urologists inject a radioisotope "tracer," a molecule to which a radioactive atom or "tag," has been attached so that it can be followed through the kidney system with special detectors. While the isotopes such as iodine-123 or 131 are often used, many urologists prefer (-99m) technetium because of its superior imaging characteristics and short half-life. It is attached to DTPA (diethylenetriamine-pentaacetic acid) for imaging patients with normal kidney function or MAG3 (mercaptoacetyltriglycine) for those with kidney impairment. In either case, a series of X-ray images of the kidneys are obtained to evaluate blood flow as well as function.

Radionuclide imaging is considered safe since it does not carry the risk of toxicity or allergic reaction found with contrasting dye. Also since the radioisotope tracer projects less radiation than an X-ray, patients are not at increased risk from exposure.

What is cystography?

Cystography uses X-rays and iodine contrast dyes to assess the bladder for rupture, vesicoureteral reflux, or demonstrate a vesical fistula. vesicoureteral reflux, urine backflow caused by an obstruction or congenital defect.

During past decades, urologists have added a nuclear version of this test, called a radionuclide cystogram, to their arsenal, particularly to study reflux. Many physicians believe this technology is a better surveillance tool for tracing the migration of urine through the urinary tract because it uses less radiation exposure (some estimates suggest up to 200 times) than the conventional voiding cystogram. It also does not rely on fluoroscopy, a radiological technique for visually examining the tissue, which contributes to the higher radiological exposures.

The doctor will insert a catheter through the patient's urethra and into the bladder. The contrast medium is then injected through the catheter into the bladder. X-ray pictures are taken at various stages of filling, from various angles, to visualize the bladder. Additional films are taken after drainage of the dye. The procedure takes about an hour and a half and the patient may be asked to wait while films are developed.

In surveying the bladder and urinary tract for vesicoureteral reflux, the urologist employs the same steps, using the radio-pharmaceutical, to collect continuous images every 10 to 15 seconds. While conventional voiding cystograms are still necessary to evaluate the male urethra for posterior valves and bladder trauma, the majority of reflux studies today are done effectively with radionuclide cystography.

While the risks are low, patients may experience urinary tract infections from the catheter, and, in rare circumstances, damage to the urethra, bladder or nearby structures.

What are bone scans?

Bone scans are routinely performed to see if prostate and bladder cancer has advanced. Although the number of bone scans has decreased over the years, these studies are especially helpful in assessing patients with advanced urologic cancers.

In these studies, a radionuclide is administered into the body. Over a period of hours, images are obtained of the bones in the body. Absorption of the radionuclide in a specific area may indicate trauma or the possibility of cancer.

In general, there is no real risk involved. In rare instances, you may have an allergic reaction to the liquid injected.

Reviewed: January 2011

Last updated: April 2013

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Urologic Radiology Glossary
  • abdomen: Also referred to as the belly. It is the part of the body that contains all of the internal structures between the chest and the pelvis.

  • anatomy: The physical structure of an internal structure of an organism or any of its parts.

  • anesthesia: Loss of sensation in any part of the body induced by a numbing or paralyzing agent. Often used during surgery to put a person to sleep.

  • aneurysm: An abnormal widening of a portion of a blood vessel.

  • angiography: An X-ray examination of your blood vessels and lymphatics, after the injection of dye.

  • antihistamine: Drug that blocks cell receptors for histamine, either to prevent allergic effects like sneezing and itching or to reduce the rate of certain secretions in the stomach.

  • aorta: The largest artery in the body.

  • arterial: Relating to, affecting or used in arteries.

  • arteries: Blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to various parts of the body.

  • artery: Blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to various parts of the body.

  • asymmetry: Lack of balance.

  • biopsied: Tiny piece of a body part that was removed with a needle or during surgery and examined under a microscope to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

  • biopsy: A procedure in which a tiny piece of a body part (tissue sample), such as the kidney or bladder, is removed (with a needle or during surgery) for examination under a microscope; to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

  • bladder: The bladder is a thick muscular balloon-shaped pouch in which urine is stored before being discharged through the urethra.

  • bone scan: A nuclear image of the skeleton.

  • bowel: Another word for intestines or colon.

  • calcification: Abnormal hardening or stiffening of a body part.

  • cancer: An abnormal growth that can invade nearby structures and spread to other parts of the body and may be a threat to life.

  • catheter: A thin tube that is inserted through the urethra into the bladder to allow urine to drain or for performance of a procedure or test, such as insertion of a substance during a bladder X-ray.

  • catheterization: Insertion of a narrow tube through the urethra or through the front of the abdominal wall into the bladder to allow urine drainage.

  • congenital: Present at birth.

  • CT scan: Also known as computerized tomography, computerized axial tomography or CT scan. A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images of the body. Shows detailed images of any part of the body, including bones, muscles, fat and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.

  • cyst: An abnormal sac containing gas, fluid or a semisolid material. Cysts may form in kidneys or other parts of the body.

  • cystic: Used to describe a cyst or material that forms, contains or is enclosed in a cyst.

  • cystogram: An X-ray examination of the bladder utilizing contrast material injected into the bladder.

  • cystoscopy: Also known as cystourethroscopy. An examination with a narrow, flexible tube-like instrument passed through the urethra to examine the bladder and urinary tract for structural abnormalities or obstructions, such as tumors or stones.

  • cysts: Abnormal sacs containing gas, fluid or a semisolid material.

  • diabetes: A medical disorder of increased blood sugar levels that can cause bladder and kidney problems.

  • diagnosis: The process by which a doctor determines what disease or condition a patient has by studying the patient's symptoms and medical history, and analyzing any tests performed (e.g., blood tets, urine tests, brain scans, etc.).

  • excrete: Expel liquid and solid waste from the body.

  • extratesticular: Outside the testicle.

  • fistula: An abnormal opening between two organs (between the bladder and vagina in women or the bladder and the rectum in men).

  • flank: The area on the side of the body between the rib and hip.

  • fluoroscope: An instrument with which X-ray images of the body can be viewed directly on a screen.

  • fluoroscopy: Imaging technique that takes a real time "movie" of the body.

  • frequency: The need to urinate more often than is normal.

  • gene: The basic unit capable of transmitting characteristics from one generation to the next.

  • gland: A mass of cells or an organ that removes substances from the bloodstream and excretes them or secretes them back into the blood with a specific physiological purpose.

  • hematuria: Blood in the urine, which can be a sign of a kidney stone or other urinary problem. Gross hematuria is blood that is visible to the naked eye. Microscopic hematuria cannot be seen but is detected on a urine test.

  • histamine: A hormone transmitter involved in local immune response regulating stomach acid production and in allergic reactions.

  • infection: A condition resulting from the presence of bacteria or other microorganisms.

  • inferior vein cavography: X-rays are used to image the inferior vein and venous pressure measurements are taken above, below and within the organ.

  • inferior vena cava: A large vein that receives blood from the lower extremities, pelvis and abdomen and empties it into the right atrium of the heart.

  • inferior vena cava: A large vein that receives blood from the lower extremities, pelvis and abdomen and empties it into the right atrium of the heart.

  • inflammatory: Characterized or caused by swelling, redness, heat and/or pain produced in an area of the body as a result of irritation, injury or infection.

  • intratesticular: Inside the testicle.

  • intravenous: Also referred to as IV. Existing or occurring inside a vein.

  • intravenous pyelography: A succession of X-ray films of the urinary tract following the injection into a vein of a contrast medium. An IVP tests kidney function and reveals the presence of stones, tumors, or obstruction in the urinary tract.

  • invasive: Having or showing a tendency to spread from the point of origin to adjacent tissue, as some cancers do. Involving cutting or puncturing the skin or inserting instruments into the body.

  • invasive: Not just on the surface; with regard to bladder cancer, a tumor that has grown into the bladder wall.

  • ionizing radiation: Electromagnetic radiation that produces ionization in a medium through which it passes.

  • ions: Electrically charged atoms.

  • isotopes: Radioactive seed implants.

  • IV: Also referred to as intravenous. Existing or occurring inside a vein.

  • IVP: Also referred to as intravenous pyelogram, intravenous urography or excretory urogram. An X-ray of the urinary tract. A dye is injected to make urine visible on the X-ray and show any blockage in the urinary tract.

  • kidney: One of two bean-shaped organs that filter wastes from the blood and discharge these waste products in urine. The kidneys are located on either side at the level of the 12th ribs toward the back. The kidneys send urine to the bladder through tubes called ureters.

  • kidney cancer: The most common type of urologic cancer. The kidneys are two large organs that sit in the back part of the abdominal cavity. The kidney's main function is to filter the blood and clean the body of excess water, salt, and waste products. Tumors of the kidney occur twice as often in men as in women and usually occur between the ages of 50 and 70.

  • kidney stone: A stone that develops from crystals that form in urine and build up on the inner surfaces of the kidney, in the renal pelvis or in the ureters. (Also see nephrolithiasis.)

  • kidneys: One of two bean-shaped organs that filter wastes from the blood and discharge these waste products in urine. The kidneys are located on either side at the level of the 12th ribs toward the back. The kidneys send urine to the bladder through tubes called ureters.

  • lesion: A zone of tissue with impaired function as a result of damage by disease or wounding. Examples are scars, abscesses, tumors and ulcers.

  • malignancies: Cancerous growths.

  • MRI: Also referred to a magnetic resonance imaging. A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

  • non-ionizing: Not able to produce ions.

  • nuclear medicine: Branch of medicine pertaining to diagnostic, therapeutic and investigative use of radioactive chemical elements.

  • nuclei: Plural of nucleus, which is the central part of a living cell that contains chromosomes and other genetic information necessary to control cell growth and reproduction.

  • obstruction: something that obstructs, blocks, or closes up with an obstacle

  • pathologic: Relating to disease or arising from disease.

  • pathological: Relating to disease or arising from disease.

  • pelvis: The bowl-shaped bone that supports the spine and holds up the digestive, urinary and reproductive organs. The legs connect to the body at the pelvis.

  • penis: The male organ used for urination and sex.

  • peripheral: Near the surface of an organ.

  • posterior: Situated at the rear or behind something.

  • probe: Small device for measuring and testing.

  • prostate: A walnut-shaped gland in men that surrounds the urethra at the neck of the bladder. The prostate supplies fluid that goes into semen.

  • prostatic: Pertaining to the prostate.

  • pubic bone: Also referred to as the pubis. Lower front of the hip bone.

  • radiation: Also referred to as radiotherapy. X-rays or radioactive substances used in treatment of cancer.

  • radio waves: Electromagnetic waves.

  • radioactive: Relating to or making use of radioactive substances or the radiation they emit.

  • radiographic: X-ray.

  • radiographic technique: Procedure for taking an X-ray.

  • radioisotope: A particular form of chemical element that is radioactive.

  • radiologic: X-ray.

  • radiologist: Doctor specializing in the interpretation of X-rays and other scanning techniques for the diagnosis of disorders.

  • radionuclide: Radioactive nuclide.

  • radionuclide cystogram: A test using a radioactive material that is placed in the bladder to evaluate the structure of the bladder and processes inside.

  • radiopaque: Blocking the passage of X-rays and other forms of electromagnetic radiation.

  • rectum: The lower part of the large intestine, ending in the anal opening.

  • reflux: Backward flow.

  • reflux: Backward flow of urine. Also referred to as vesicoureteral reflux (VUR). An abnormal condition in which urine backs up from the bladder into the ureters and occasionally into the kidneys, raising the risk of infection.

  • renal: Pertaining to the kidneys.

  • renal vein: Short, thick vein which returns blood from the kidneys to the vena cava.

  • retrograde: Backwards.

  • retrograde pyelography: Radiographic imaging of the ureters and collecting system of the kidneys by introducing a dye opaque to X-rays by way of urinary catheter.

  • retrograde urethrogram: X-ray diagnostic test to evaluate appearance and integrity of the urethra.

  • sagittal: Related to the imaginary plane that divides a human into right and left halves.

  • scrotum: Also referred to as the scrotal sac. The sac of tissue that hangs below the penis and contains the testicles.

  • sonogram: Also referred to as a ultrasound. A technique that bounces painless sound waves off organs to create an image of their structure to detect abnormalities.

  • sperm: Also referred to as spermatozoa. Male germ cells (gametes or reproductive cells) that are produced by the testicles and that are capable of fertilizing the female partner's eggs. Cells resemble tadpoles if seen by the naked eye.

  • spermatic cord: A cord by which a testis is suspended in the scrotum.

  • stage: Classification of the progress of a disease.

  • steroid: An organic fat-soluble compound.

  • stone: Small hard mass of mineral material formed in an organ.

  • stool: Waste material (feces) discharged from the body.

  • testicle: Also known as testis. Either of the paired, egg-shaped glands contained in a pouch (scrotum) below the penis. They produce sperm and the male hormone testosterone.

  • testicular: Relating to the testicle (testis).

  • testis: Also known as testicle. Either of the paired, egg-shaped glands contained in a pouch (scrotum) below the penis. They produce sperm and the male hormone testosterone.

  • tissue: Group of cells in an organism that are similar in form and function.

  • topical: Describes medication applied directly to the surface of the part of the body being treated.

  • torsion: Twisting.

  • toxicity: Degree to which something is poisonous.

  • transducer: Converter of energy.

  • transplant: Replacement of a diseased organ with a healthy one. A kidney transplant may come from a living donor or from someone who has just died.

  • tumor: An abnormal mass of tissue or growth of cells.

  • ultrasonography: A test in which sound waves are bounced off body tissue, and the echos are converted into a picture, for the purpose of medical examination or diagnosis, that are viewed on a monitor.

  • ultrasound: Also referred to as a sonogram. A technique that bounces painless sound waves off organs to create an image of their structure to detect abnormalities.

  • urate: A salt of uric acid.

  • ureter: One of two tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

  • ureteral: Pertaining to the ureter. Also referred to as ureteric.

  • ureters: Pair of tubes that carry urine from each kidney to the bladder.

  • ureters: Tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

  • urethra: A tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. In males, the urethra serves as the channel through which semen is ejaculated and it extends from the bladder to the tip of the penis. In females, the urethra is much shorter than in males.

  • urethral: Relating to the urethra, the tube tha carries urine from the bladder to outside the body.

  • urge: Strong desire to urinate.

  • urinary: Relating to urine.

  • urinary tract: The system that takes wastes from the blood and carries them out of the body in the form of urine. Passageway from the kidneys to the ureters, bladder and urethra.

  • urinary tract infection: Also referred to as UTI. An illness caused by harmful bacteria, viruses or yeast growing in the urinary tract.

  • urinate: To release urine from the bladder to the outside. Also referred to as void.

  • urine: Liquid waste product filtered from the blood by the kidneys, stored in the bladder and expelled from the body through the urethra by the act of urinating (voiding). About 96 percent of which is water and the rest waste products.

  • urologist: A doctor who specializes in diseases of the male and female urinary systems and the male reproductive system. Click here to learn more about urologists. (Download the free Acrobat reader.)

  • urology: Branch of medicine concerned with the urinary tract in males and females and with the genital tract and reproductive system of males.

  • vas: Also referred to as vas deferens. The cordlike structure that carries sperm from the testicle to the urethra.

  • vascular: Having to do with blood vessels.

  • vein: Blood vessel that drains blood away from an organ or tissue.

  • vena cava: Vein carrying blood to the heart.

  • vesicoureteral reflux: Also referred to as VUR. An abnormal condition in which urine backs up from the bladder into the ureters and occasionally into the kidneys, raising the risk of infection.

  • void: To urinate, empty the bladder.

  • voiding: Urinating.

  • voiding cystogram: Also referred to as VCUG or voiding cystourethrogram. A specific X-ray that examines the urinary tract. A catheter (hollows tube) is placed in the urethra (tube that drains urine from the bladder to the outside of the body)and the bladder is filled with a liquid dye. X-ray images are taken as the bladder fills and empties. The X-rays will show if there is any reverse flow of urine into the ureters and kidneys.

Urologic Radiology Anatomical Drawings

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